Florence Gordon

  • by Brian Morton
  • Narrated by Dawn Harvey
  • 7 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Could Have Been Longer

I bought this book because of the many positive reviews, and I was interested in a seventy-something as a primary protagonist. I like that this is a presentation of the life and work of a woman of a certain age, with all the acquired wit and wisdom that age provides.

While the story and characterization delivered, I just felt there wasn't enough exploration of the several connected plot lines, and not enough development of the characters' interior geography.

On the "plus" list: I did especially like the polarity that was set up between the main character, Florence, and her Gen Y (or is it "Z" by now?) granddaughter...where both the conflicts and connections were profiled with plenty of insight. And I also liked that both the male leads were not described as eye candy, their appeal emerging from more interior, subtle, character-driven sources.

But the narrator pretty much ruined it for me - most of her voices were delivered in a kind of sing-songy chatter, adding a lot of unnecessary drama which is NOT why I read. To her credit, she presented the male characters without sounding like a female Attila the Hun, but for the most part I was annoyed by her rapid staccato vocalizations.

I could sense in this narrator an affinity for the theater, as some passages of dialogue were read like a stage play, with no description, and I found it all just a little too "cute" for my liking, with quick one-liners back and forth, almost as though the speakers were going to break into song at any moment. Sort of a Noel Coward/Neil Simon effect. I realize this is the way that the scenes were written, but I would have preferred some interior thoughts and/or actions mixed in with the dialogue. Hope that makes sense.

The ending was abrupt - and I am not fussy about endings. I think they are about the same as beginnings - within certain parameters, one place is as good as another. But this novel sauntered gracefully towards an end you could see coming but then the story simply vanished, dropped out of sight without saying goodbye, leaving the reader to wonder "what just happened?".

So, it's a "3" all around. Still a very good listen, even though I didn't think it was quite "there", and it's one I would recommend - either in audio or print.

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- Pamela Harvey "glam"

Unsentimental

What did you love best about Florence Gordon?

Exquisitely written, intelligent/wise book. As an audio listener, I especially liked the many short chapters.


What did you like best about this story?

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.


What does Dawn Harvey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I don't know about the tag line, but if Lena Dunham could be aged by several decades, she should play the lead.


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- Caro

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-23-2014
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.