Florence Gordon by Brian Morton is a delightful depiction of a seventy-five year-old feisty feminist who advanced the goals of the woman’s movement through her writing and political advocacy for decades and who remains politically active in spite of her advanced years. Florence is fiercely independent, brutally honest, selfish, tactless, eccentric, and a passionate advocate for justice and equity.
Brian Morton manages to create a character that is complex, believable, and admirable in her own uncompromising way. His portrayal of this eccentric woman is all the more remarkable in that he was able to get inside a woman’s head and capture her personality so convincingly. Florence is gutsy, values her space and privacy, and has little tolerance for anyone other than herself. Much to her chagrin, her family’s dramas weave in and out of her life, interrupting her work and routine. She remains fiercely determined to live and to die on her own terms.
The novel is situated in New York, an ideal setting for this rough and tough protagonist. The style is accessible. The story moves at a brisk pace. But the true strength of the novel lies in its character portrayals, beginning with Florence's aging feminist friends whom she has known for decades, her ex-husband, her son, her daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter. Like Florence, they may not be loveable characters, but they are recognizably real, However, it is Morton's portrayal of Florence Gordon herself that shines above all others and that makes the novel such an engaging and delightful read. Highly recommended.