Florence Gordon by Brian Morton: Mini Book Review

FictionFlorence Gordon, Brian Morton
Released September, 2014

323 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it….if gorgeous writing can carry a book for you.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary of Florence Gordon:

Florence, a seventy-five year old feminist icon, is just starting to write her memoir in her carefully constructed life of mostly solitude when her son and his family come to New York City for an extended stay.

My Thoughts on Florence Gordon:

I have to tell you that the first time I tried this book, I put it down about 15% through. However, I’m so glad I picked it up again. Florence Gordon is a character-driven novel that doesn’t have a ton of action, but is gorgeously written. If you’re the type of reader who can love a book solely for the writing, this one is for you.

This novel is mostly about Florence Gordon (duh…read the title!), who is an irascible, selfish, feminist who hates most people and is enjoying a brief resurgence in notoriety as a “national treasure”. And, she’s not that likable (note to people who have to like their main characters…this one may not be for you). But, Florence’s dislikability didn’t bother me too much because there was a rational outside perspective (mainly from her granddaughter, Emily, who is very likable!) critiquing her behavior. I thought of Florence more as a curiosity whose antics had me smiling, but shaking my head at the same time. Morton did a fantastic job with Florence’s character, so let me use his words to really describe what she’s like….

Emily wanted to find her grandmother lovable. But it wasn’t easy. Florence seemed proud of herself for vandalizing her friend’s phone [which she threw in a pitcher of Sangria as punishment for too much texting at the dinner table], and her friend seemed to accept it. Evidently you tolerated her quirks for the privilege of knowing her.

[…] being with Florence was never what you hoped it would be. Florence never let you relax. […] After it was over, Janine would feel as if she’d endured a sort of intellectual pummeling. Florence was vaguely insulting even when she didn’t mean to be.

Seeing Florence was always unpleasant. The remarkable thing was that it was always unpleasant in a new way.

[…] a new species of human being […]. The outrageous old fogey.

Florence Gordon, the master of the art of saying no.

If Florence had been a guy, she would have been a guy who’d never outgrown the habit of leaving the toilet seat up after he peed.

Morton’s writing is tight, using perfectly chosen words without including anything unnecessary, and is why I liked this book as much as I did. The amount of (virtual) highlighting I did in this book was out of control. So much so that I’m doing a Top 10 Quotes from Florence Gordon post at some point…like I did with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

If amazing writing can carry a book for you, you won’t find many better picks than Florence Gordon and I’m looking forward to reading more from Brian Morton, who made my list of Top 10 New to Me Authors of 2014.

You May Also Like:
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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  1. Diane wrote:

    Liked this one as well.

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  2. I have this one and also put it down, but did not pick it back up yet. It seemed slow moving to me. Maybe I should pick it back up. Thanks for your review.

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      If by slow moving, you mean not a ton of action in the plot…then, yes. But, the I ended up getting into the writing and the characters – just understanding that this wasn’t a plot driven story put me in a different frame of mind.

      Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  3. I’m a total sucker for great sentences, so this one had me from the start. Glad to hear it worked well for you! Love seeing all the great lines again – it makes me want to pick it up again!

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      This was such a quotable book – I was highlighting like crazy! So much so that I’m doing a Top 10 quotes from Florence Gordon post on Sunday. The ones in this post were all focused on who Florence was as a person…the next one will be more general quotes.

      Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  4. I do love gorgeous writing and great characters but I need a plot so this one might not be for me.

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  5. Absolutely loved this book… hope you do the top 10 quote post!

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I am – already written it and it’s going up on Sunday!

      Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  6. Martha G wrote:

    I think I need to read this. Hold placed–I love being able to do this online!

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  7. I’m ok with the main character not being likeable, as long as someone in the story is. I think I’m going to give this one a try, I like stories about older characters (no matter what their personalities are).

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  8. I really want to read this! Cranky old feminists and beautiful sentences are totally my jam.

    Posted 12.19.14 Reply

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