"Always a pleasure to read for his well-drawn characters, quiet insight and dialogue that crackles with wit, Morton here raises his own bar in all three areas." -- Kirkus, starred review
"Morton’s characters are sharply drawn, vivid in temperament and behavior, and his prose smartly reveals Florence’s strength and dignity." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Morton’s intelligent, layered portrait of a feisty, independent older woman is an absolute joy to read, not only for its delightful wit but also for its dignified appraisal of aging and living life on one’s own terms." --Booklist, starred review "Morton (Starting Out in the Evening) has created an obstreperous, rebellious character who is likable for being true to herself." --Library Journal
“Combining a rigorous intellect and a deep humanity, this is the story of a feminist hero, a family coming together and apart, and the ways we interpret the past and attempt to face the future. Most of all, Florence Gordon shows how passion — of one type or the other — shapes a heart." —Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“Perceptive isn't a strong enough word to describe Brian Morton's insight into family dynamics; psychic is more like it. From the nuances of a long marriage to the inevitable, infinitely sad divisions and tender connections between grandparents and parents and children, Morton nails it all. And somehow he still manages to be funny, even as he breaks your heart.”—Emily Gould, author of Friendship
"Florence Gordon is a marvelous creation. Like many great characters in English literature, she is a sacred monster, fully realized and richly present in the pages of this thoroughly enjoyable book."—Vivian Gornick, author of Fierce Attachments and Approaching Eye Level
"A marvelously wise, compassionate, funny, rueful and altogether winning novel. Brian Morton knows inside-out this tribe of witty, thoughtful people who, for all their decent values and good intentions, can't seem to narrow the unbridgeable distance between men and women, young and old, pride and compromise, solitariness and community. Florence Gordon is his most generously ample, humane and vital book."—Phillip Lopate, author of To Show and To Tell and Against Joie de Vivre
"Florence Gordon is one of contemporary literature’s most wondrous characters: flawed and brilliant, funny and serious, totally unforgettable."—Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and Half a Life
“Florence Gordon belongs on the very short list of wonderful novels about older women. Florence, the brilliant, cranky, solitude-craving feminist writer, is an indelible character, and her New York—the fading city of books and writers and melancholy oddballs —lives on in these immensely pleasurable pages.”—Katha Pollit, author of Learning to Drive: and Other Life Stories
Morton (Starting Out in the Evening) offers up a fascinating family presided over by the irascible Florence Gordon, a 75-year-old New York City intellectual and feminist activist who likes to surprise, argue, and criticize. Florence never sought public adoration during her long career committed to women’s empowerment, but, now that she has been touted as “an American classic” by her young new editor, she finds she likes the attention. Her pending memoir will be her crowning literary achievement, but her family’s temporary relocation to New York from Seattle interferes with her process: she considers it an unwelcome intrusion into her well-established routine. Florence’s son, Daniel, is a Seattle policeman, an apparently disappointing career choice for the son of a famous feminist, and she cannot understand why she feels so little affection for him. She thinks his wife, Janine, is a vacuous suck-up and also has a difficult time connecting with her inquisitive teenage granddaughter, Emily, although the two eventually develop a tentative rapport. Florence never sees the disaster looming in her son’s marriage after an unexpected, life-altering medical diagnosis causes her to make two fateful decisions about her own future. As a strong-willed, independent woman, Florence is comfortable with herself and the manner in which she deals with others—“one of the fine things in life is the difference between what goes on inside you and what you show to the world.” Morton’s characters are sharply drawn, vivid in temperament and behavior, and his prose smartly reveals Florence’s strength and dignity. (Sept.)
New York City serves as a beloved character in Morton's study of a woman who can best be described as a force of nature. A noted feminist writer with an acerbic wit, Florence Gordon tolerates the company of only her oldest and closest friends. She has a former husband who's a less successful writer and a son whose family inhales the cultural richness of the city as they move to New York from Seattle, imposing on Florence. At the same time as her life's work is suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, 75-year-old Florence's health begins to decline. Still, she remains the matriarch of a family that avoids authentic interaction through snappy repartee that needs to be decoded if any real meaning is to be found. It all builds up to one weekend when everyone deceives everyone else on some level; each character must then begin the process of dealing with the consequences of his or her own choices. VERDICT This novel shows us how a woman uses her strengths and her lifelong friendships to face challenges strictly on her own terms. Morton (Starting Out in the Evening) has created an obstreperous, rebellious character who is likable for being true to herself. [See Prepub Alert, 3/31/14.]—Susanne Wells, Indianapolis P.L.
Unexpected celebrity and long-absent family members distract a heroically cantankerous 1960s-era activist in the summer of 2009 as she reluctantly confronts the challenges of age.Morton (Breakable You, 2006, etc.) returns to the world of writers with Florence Gordon, a feisty literary lioness of the U.S. feminist movement. At 75, she has a just-published book that’s languishing, and despite years away from the limelight, she's embarked on a memoir only to learn that her longtime editor is retiring. No matter: She treasures her solitude and “having fun trying to make the sentences come right.” Yet fame befalls her in the form of a top critic’s review of her book in the New York Times. Family matters also intrude. Her ex-husband, a vicious burned-out writer, demands that she use her contacts to get him a job. Her son and his wife are back in New York after years in Seattle. Their daughter, Emily, helps Florence with research and almost warms up the “gloriously difficult woman.” Then the matriarch’s health begins to nag her with strange symptoms. While Florence dominates the book, “each person is the center of a world,” as Emily thinks, and Morton brings each member of the small Gordon clan to life at a time when there is suddenly much to discover about their world. He’s also strewn the novel with references to books and writers and the craft itself, which is appropriate for the somewhat rarefied setting—Manhattan’s historically liberal, bookish Upper West Side, where Morton’s characters often dwell—and a treat for anyone keen on literary fiction.Always a pleasure to read for his well-drawn characters, quiet insight and dialogue that crackles with wit, Morton here raises his own bar in all three areas. He also joins a sadly small club of male writers who have created memorable heroines.