Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Florence Gordon” as Want to Read:
Florence Gordon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Florence Gordon

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  3,439 ratings  ·  636 reviews
A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her family's various catastrophes.

Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible and underappreciated by most everyone else. At seve
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Florence Gordon, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,439 ratings  ·  636 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Florence Gordon
a) I’m old. b) I love New York City. c) I love writing. So as I started this, it’s no surprise that I wanted to BE Florence Gordon, this 70-something feminist writer living in New York City. She’s my people.

The book starts with her immediately and graciously leaving her surprise party to return home and write. That takes guts, man is she cool. But my hero worship and over-identification with this icon is short-lived, because the next time I see her in action, she’s a real bitch. She uses her br
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Florence Gordon is one tough New Yorker broad who just wants to be left alone....or does she? At seventy-five years old, the outrageously direct, unpleasant to a fault feminist is finally writing her memoir and her main interference at present is her X Saul, her visiting son Daniel, his wife Janine and her young-adult granddaughter Emily, although everyone annoys her in one way or another......even her tribe of old friends.

As I was reading along enjoying Florence's insults and wondering if every

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” ― Rebecca West
Florence Gordon was not a doormat by anybody's definition anyway.
Florence was seventy five years old. In an earlier era, that would have made her an old lady. But not today. She’d been a young woman during the 1960s, and if you were young in the sixties—“bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”—there’s
Diane S ☔
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Many years back, one of my favorite TV shows, was shown on our local PBS station and was called Waiting for God. It was about a group of seniors in senior housing and the character I loved was named Diana. She asked for and took no mercy, had a very ironic wit and basically insisted on living the life that was left to her on her own terms. She reminded me so much of Florence Gordon.

At 74, Florence too lives life exactly the way she wants. She is a writer, a feminist prominent in the sixties and
Elyse  Walters
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I recently read and adored "Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk", by Kathleen Rooney,
and I'm thoroughly enjoying 'as-in-fantastic' the Audiobook I'm listening to now, (3 hours still remaining), called "The Atomic Weight of Love", by Elizabeth J. Church.
Both books have a bright female protagonist with a sound academic education, and they capture the essence of feminism.

So, I remembered I had a copy of "Florence Gordon".....another book with a strong female protagonist. I purchased a 'like-new' hard c
Iris P

Florence Gordon
"Take the risk that you'll end up regretting your speech, because is better than regretting your silence"
Emily, a character from Florence Gordon

Florence Gordon turned out to be one of the most deliciously enjoyable books I've read this year. With a quick pace and at least a couple of pretty fascinating characters, this novel was a joy to read. I found Br
Diane Barnes
I see that most of my friends here on GR rated this one 4 stars, but I can't go higher than 3. Good story, good writing, interesting characters, and Florence Gordon herself is one of a kind. A feisty, outspoken 75 year old writer/feminist/activist, who insists on living her life on her own terms, and she doesn't give a damn what anyone else thinks about it. Her life gets complicated by family who turn up in New York for a while and try to spend time with her, even though she would rather be left ...more
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Florence Gordon is reason enough for me to be on Goodreads. This book was not on my radar until very recently when I saw a few very positive reviews by GR friends. Florence Gordon is a 75 year old feminist activist, intellectual and author living in Manhattan's upper west side. The book focuses on Florence, but also tells the story of her son, daughter in law and granddaughter, and their respective perceptions of and relationships with Florence. But the strength of the book is Florence's portray ...more
Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: public-library
'Get away from me.'

Florence Gordon. Now, here is a woman who does not mince words. I like that. It leaves no room for being misunderstood. Don't let her catch you cutting in line unless you expect to be called out on it. Trust me, it won't be a pleasant experience.

At 75 years old, Florence knows what she wants and she values time to herself above all. Alas, life entails that there be at least some interaction with others. She was once married, after all, and has a son, a daughter-in-law, and a
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
"You don't throw your trash on the street, you don't serve yourself first, and you don't cut in line. It's called civilization." - Florence Gordon

How to Read Florence Gordon (if you're me)
Open book
Read first page
Close book
Hug book
Reopen book
Read forever

Florence is self-awareness and wisdom mixed with some first-class DGAF. She's hard to get along with, and she knows it. She doesn't suffer fools, not even ones who are family and who wouldn't even register as fools on anyone else's radar. She neve
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever encountered a book that you find near-impossible to enjoy just because of its alarming similarity to another book (that you happened to adore)?

Such was my feeling upon reading the jacket blurb and fellow Goodreaders reviews of Florence Gordon, from Brian Morton's decision to title the book after its crotchety, ill-mannered septuagenarian main character, to (relatively often) shifting the focus away from her and onto her immediate family and friends. Both are stylistic hallmarks of
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sociology
Florence Gordon. I found this to be a book about the disconnection of one human to another, about lives half lived. The individuals in this book, except for Emily, who hasn't yet figured out what she wants to do to make a living, are capable and successful in their work and seem to have gotten a great deal of satisfaction from their professions, but they lack the ability to connect with their family members, or others. They felt like zombies to me walking around in confusion.

I liked Florence's
Barbara Matros
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having just read the New York Times review of this novel, I feel inclined to defend its purpose and its beauty. The Times Review criticizes Florence Gordon, both the novel and the character for not having ideas, for not being a book about feminism or about political activism since Florence is supposed to be an intellectual and a product of these social upheavals. It's true that the isms don't figure very much in the book, but they are not necessary. This is a novel about the fragility of the hu ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved the characters and story, nice short chapters, had unfinished ending...
Betsy Robinson
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Florence Gordon, a seventy-five-year-old feminist writer who lives near me (possibly in my apartment) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, ventures out into the world,
she would stop to berate people who littered. One day she told a beggar to stand up straight and look people in the eye as he begged.

At a Duane Reade one afternoon, ten or fifteen people were waiting to pay for their purchases. Two cashiers were working, and there was one line. A man in a business suit took a look at the sit
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
“Florence Gordon was trying to write a memoir, but she had two strikes against her: she was old and she was an intellectual.” A Second Wave New York City feminist, for that matter. “She was always outraged, always indignant about something she’d read or heard or seen, yet there was something about her that was forever hopeful.” This is a gentle, affectionate but still very funny portrait of a 75-year-old firebrand who chooses to live (view spoiler) on her own terms. I d ...more
Robert Bedick
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How long does it take for Morton to establish a character? A few pages? A chapter? How ‘bout half a page. That’s how long it takes for Florence Gordon, a 75 year old icon of 1970s feminism to become someone who has entered our lives as a real, living and breathing person. And what Morton does with his main character he achieves again and again as he introduces the characters who orbit – most often at arm’s length – her life: her son Daniel and his wife Janine, her granddaughter Emily, her friend ...more
Angie Reisetter
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
Got this from Firstreads.

It seems to me that this is more like a collection of character sketches of Florence and her son, his wife, and their daughter. Four characters, each interesting in their own way, but none so much as Florence herself. I enjoyed the time I got to spend with her. Her son and granddaughter were also very enjoyable. I really relished these characters.

But there's no real plot in the novel sense. All four characters have pathologically bad communication skills, so they rarely
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you read books in order to gain a more profound understanding of human nature, this one is perfect. The shifting of perspectives so that the same event, the same exchange can be viewed from different angles is genius when utilized as well as it was here. In general this was a character driven piece and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. Supporting cast was strong in its own right, but the titular character stole the show. An aging feminist intellectual New Yorker, stubborn, uncompromising ...more
I had liked Morton's Starting out in the evening, so thought I'd try this one when I saw my library had the audiobook available as a download. Verdict: not so sure I was the target audience for this one?

To be blunt, I found Florence to be a nasty old bat. Granted, she had her redeeming features, but she was C-O-L-D in terms of expressing emotions; WASP's seem like non-stop emoters compared to her. Moreover, I had a specific political problem with folks in her demographic, who rail against "the s
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
*4.5 stars* I just really liked this slim book. It's about Florence Gordon (duh), a somewhat famous writer, academic, and feminist living in NYC, writing her memoirs, getting to know her granddaughter, Emily, and dealing with the adulation (and eventually, the fallout) that occurs when a writer at the NY Times book section surprisingly plucks her out of her semiobscurity in order to anoint her something of the matriarch of the feminist movement. She's crusty, principled, elitist, and I enjoyed e ...more
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it

Florence Gordon is a 70-something New Yorker, an aging intellectual an feminist icon, embarking upon writing her memoirs. Her son, a policeman, and his wife and college-age daughter have lived on the west coast, which is just fine with Florence. But, this summer, they're all in New York, a city Florence loves. Over the course of the summer, all four of their lives will be in some degree of upheaval.
This book is a quick and entertaining read. There are numerous references to books and political
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I read Florence Gordon by Brian Morton for book club this month.

I have read several books recently about older women who came to age in the 1960s. I am sensing a trend here of people who want to explore a politically active generation of women. These women end up being icons but failures as wives and mothers. I am getting irritated by that generalization, and hope that in the future writers will explore how women can be political, interacting for the common good, while still being loving parent
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it
This might be a good read for people who loved/liked Olive Kitteridge. The protagonist, Florence Gordon is a highly respected feminist trailblazer with no filter. It is unclear whether she has always been this blunt/cold/rude, or if she has become more crotchety as she aged. If she was always like this it would be amazing that she has any friends at all, let alone enough to throw her a party! The fact that she has a group of long-time friends who she treats like crap and seems to hate spending t ...more
Oct 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
Breezy, short chapters, no lingering. Belying the title there are four main characters and a shifting close third p.o.v. between them. I'm not even sure Florence G. was the most interesting to me - despite my interest in old intellectuals and second wave feminism (I am not kidding here; I loved the name-dropping in this novel). I liked her fine, in all her ferocity, but the most intriguing would have to be Daniel, the cop-son of Florence, husband of Janine, father of Emily. This cuckolded husban ...more
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm surprised at how well this book is reviewed. I thought it fell flat without meeting its potential and the ending was so unsatisfying that I can consider rating it 2 stars instead of 3. I love the title character. I love her chutzpah and style. I wish I could do what she did at her surprise party. I love the NYC landmarks. I'm impressed at the accurate (brief) descriptions of Walter Mischel's and Andrea Duckworth's work in cognitive science. But the book is annoying in its metacognitive prese ...more
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Story Formula. Start with a grouchy septuagenarian, add a washed up ex-husband, a passive son, a morally compromised daughter in law,and a clever but naive granddaughter. Then add an dash of infidelity, an incurable disease, an unsatisfying conclusion, and stir. Viola, you have a book, but unfortunately not a good one. I was unable to sympathizes with, root for, or care about any of the characters. In fact, I actively disliked most of them. Many have liked this book, I am not among them.
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: not-gay
(view spoiler)

As I turned the last page, I thought there was some error in my Kindle, because that was it. But nope, it was just the way it was.

Not a fan of that ending. At all.

Though I was a big fan of the fragile relationship between Florence and Emily.
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review to follow but I really enjoyed this story of an older woman-writer and feminist living in NYC. How could I not like it? Well-written with strong characters, I really appreciated the acerbity of the protanist.
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, fiction
What a clever and amusing novel!
From the very first page, I was hooked on this story. Florence Gordon is a seventy-five years old intelligent woman, a feminist writer. Unpredictable and ostensibly cantankerous, Florence leaves her birthday party because she desires nothing more than to stay home and write her memoir. She is also the kind of person who drops her friend’s Blackberry in a pitcher of Sangria after requesting a number of times for her to put it away. … Well, she is a really “pain in
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Divisadero
  • OUT COMES THE EVIL a gripping Cotswolds murder mystery full of twists (Alex Duggins Book 2)
  • An Elegant Woman
  • The Immortal City (The Magicians of Venice, #1)
  • Emily, Alone (Emily Maxwell, #2)
  • Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul
  • Simon the Fiddler
  • Cold (Alex Duggins Mystery, #1)
  • The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting
  • The Shield (Blake Jordan #6)
  • Starkes weiches Herz
  • The Me I Used to Be
  • Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays
  • Super Sniper (Jack Hunter #2)
  • L'elenco telefonico degli accolli
  • The Mistress of Paris
  • Die Orlow-Diamanten (Lady Jane 3)
  • The Operator
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

BRIAN MORTON is the author of four previous novels, including Starting Out in the Evening, which was a Salon favorite book of the year and was made into an acclaimed feature film, and A Window Across the River, which was a Book Club selection on the Today show. He is the dir

Related Articles

Like  The Mothers , Brit Bennett’s bestselling debut,  The Vanishing Half  revolves around a secret with far-reaching implications. 
39 likes · 7 comments
“I know it sounds strange but it’s true. I mean that you’re open to life. You’re open to being surprised. You’re open to being changed by life. Most of us lose that quality in our twenties. I don’t know how you’ve managed to hang on to it, but you have.” The music was loud, and the people were loud.” 3 likes
“People, Florence thought as she put on her shoes. What do I need them for again?” 1 likes
More quotes…