A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for 75 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, a feminist icon to young women. At 75, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, clouding the clarity of her days with the frustrations of middle age and the confusions of youth. And then there is her left foot, which is starting to drag.
With searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity in all its flaws, Brian Morton introduces a constellation of unforgettable characters. Chief among them is Florence, who can humble the fools surrounding her with one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outwit.
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Exquisitely written, intelligent/wise book. As an audio listener, I especially liked the many short chapters.
Florence herself: Her toughness, self-integrity, and grit. I decided to read this because of PBS book reviewer Maureen Corrigan's description of her as a blunt and unlikeable, and I was in the mood for something unsentimental and not nicely wrapped up with a bow.
Dawn Harvey made an ambitious effort to portray the characters with nuance. She didn't always do it perfectly, sometime blending one voice over into another, but she did capture them well.
I don't know about the tag line, but if Lena Dunham could be aged by several decades, she should play the lead.
Disappointed in Narration
Morton yes, Harvey - not so much.
Harvey's narration of Florence Gordon is so annoying to me that I couldn't finish the book. She has assigned "voices" to each of the characters, but Harvey can't seem to remember which character has what voice, or the voices change based on who the character is speaking to, and sometimes accents fade in and out. It was so annoying that I found myself listening to Harvey instead of listening to the characters.
Harvey over-animates the voices and turns the characters into caricatures. Florence speaks in a growly voice until Harvey forgets to maintain it, the teen granddaughter is portrayed as a stereotyped ninny, when clearly she's an intelligent and thoughtful girl.
Harvey makes all the characters overact. She should have voiced them as mature adults, using lower case tone. Instead EVERYONE IS SPEAKING IN UPPER CASE as though Harvey is trying to get a point across. No nuance.
What I like about books is you can assign or imagine voices to the characters. I love audio books, but I especially appreciate the narrators who don't try to act out the book for me. That's what my imagination is for. Just read the words, please.
I've never thought this about a book before, but I can't wait for a movie to be made. I think the it has potential to attract great actors, including older actors.
I'll be switching from audio to paper version for this book.