A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Florence Gordon is 75, a cantankerous and blunt woman who earned a reputation for her feminist writings beginning in the 1960s. Now she just wants to be left alone so she can write her memoir. But people keep interfering – her son, his wife and daughter, her friends, her publisher, her ex-husband.
Then her previous book receives a glowing review and she is thrust into the spotlight, a little bit pleased by the attention. She needs an assistant and hires her 19-year-old granddaughter, Emily. Florence has never been what you’d call warm, but she finds her granddaughter to be less objectionable than some, which is probably as good as it gets. Emily is intrigued by her grandmother, and takes lessons from reading her works and observing her behavior. By the end they have established a tentative rapport.
As Florence becomes involved in a flurry of speaking engagements, her son’s marriage seems to be on shaky ground, her ex-husband wants her to find him a job, Emily becomes involved in an uncomfortable relationship, and Florence receives a serious diagnosis. The action comes to a head one weekend when nearly every main character behaves deceitfully and needs to figure out how to move forward.
It’s fun hanging out with the prickly yet somehow likeable Florence, waiting to see what she’ll say next. Morton shows us an aging woman who knows what she wants and isn’t about to let anyone get in her way. Other characters are also drawn with wit and with empathy, and New York’s bookish Upper West Side has its own role in the story.
What I liked best about this novel was the snappy repartee among the characters, the tenderness that once in a while peeked through, and the strength and independence of this grouchy old lady.
Reviewed by Nancy