REVIEW: Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
Published September 23rd, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover; 320 Pages
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Library
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.83
My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Florence Gordon is described as “blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible and under appreciated by most everyone else” in this novel by Brian Morton. Florence is seventy-five years old when she begins to write her memoirs and begrudgingly enlists the help of her granddaughter, Emily, to help her research and compile. Throughout the book we discover what Florence really thinks about her family and how she really feels about getting older. Morton’s writing is gives his character some razor sharp wit and makes for some amusement regarding everyone’s interpersonal skills.

Florence is a moody old bat and I really loved that about her! It was refreshing to see someone speaking to others the exact way they think about others. So many people (IRL and in novels) struggle with maintaining a polite expression while their thoughts head in a wildly different direction. Not Florence. Florence tells it like it is. The other characters we meet–Florence’s son, her daughter-in-law, her granddaughter and some of Florence’s friends and colleagues are all well written and developed characters who are also, fortunately or unfortunately, at the mercy of Florence’s intolerance for bullshit.

She felt guilty for a moment, then realized that the guilt was merely a sort of tribute she was paying to convention–in fact, she simply hadn’t wanted to see them–and she stopped feeling guilty.

I wanted to like this book a lot–in fact, I really expected to. But, honestly it felt like it fell a little flat for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book and the writing was wonderful, I think I just wanted a little more climax in the end. I would definitely still recommend it, though, because it’s a wonderful look at the way us complex humans really interact with each other and the roles our insecurities and stubbornness can play a part in our lives.

“Why was it that at every grown-up function, the exact same conversation had to take place? Sometimes Emily felt as if she could hand out scripts, to save everybody the trouble of thinking, except that there would be no point, because they weren’t thinking–they were just saying the same things they’d said last time.”

Other books by Brian Morton: Breakable You, Starting Out in the Evening,  A Window Across the River.


7 thoughts on “REVIEW: Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

    1. It was still a great read! I think I was just hoping for a major turn of events at the end or something. Still worth a read! I enjoyed the characters very much. :)


  1. I liked this book, but didn’t love it like some others did. Like you, I LOVED the writing (enough to write a separate Top 10 Quotes from Florence Gordon post in addition to my review), but definitely was missing something (could never really put my finger on what). Given the writing, I would like to read something else by Brian Morton.


    1. I would too, definitely! I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. It was one of those books that felt like a peek behind a curtain on the character’s lives–not always catching them at their best, brightest or even when Big Events were happening. It was subtle!


  2. I was intrigued by the subject of this one and I love the fact that she’s quite a character, but I certainly am not delighted by the reviews I’ve been reading lately; thanks for sticking with it to let us know what you thought! Great review, April!


    1. Thank you! I would definitely still recommend reading it as the characters are well developed and Florence is just a hoot. I laughed out loud many times!



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