Rebecca's Reviews > Florence Gordon

Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-via-edelweiss, feminist, old-age-or-ageing

“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 defy you not to fall in love with Florence at least a little bit.

The narration is a witty, shifting third-person limited, a bit like you get from Howard Jacobson – who has, of course, been dubbed the Jewish Austen. So in addition to the title character you also get the perspectives of Florence’s son Daniel, a Seattle cop; her daughter-in-law Janine, a research psychologist who has an intellectual crush on her and is contemplating an extramarital affair; and their daughter Emily, on a break from college, who becomes Florence’s amanuensis.

The book is strong on female voices and opinions, yet the male characters aren’t complete duds. Morton is especially astute at pinpointing what gets talked about in families/marriages and what remains unsaid: “You travel side by side through the life you share, knowing each other intimately and not knowing each other at all.”

Related reading:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt: Florence Gordon isn’t exactly like Harry Burden, but they are both larger-than-life feminists whose New York City lives are inevitably overrun by family.

The central marriage and adultery subplot reminded me a touch of Life Drawing by Robin Black.
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Reading Progress

June 5, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
June 5, 2014 – Shelved
December 7, 2014 – Started Reading
December 10, 2014 –
page 98
December 14, 2014 – Shelved as: read-via-edelweiss
December 14, 2014 – Finished Reading
August 12, 2016 – Shelved as: feminist
August 12, 2016 – Shelved as: old-age-or-ageing

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Margitte It was really a good read indeed.

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