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Florence Gordon


A wise and entertaining novel about a defiant 75-year-old woman determined to...
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Discuss Florence Gordon by Brian Morton:
In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Created: 08/26/15

Replies: 28

Posted Aug. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

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In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is often described in ways that make it clear she is a difficult person. She even leaves her own surprise party, preferring to go home and write. In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose? How else does this question spring up in the novel?


Posted Aug. 30, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lindah

Join Date: 04/17/14

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence doesn't bother with social niceties or conventions. I think she is self-absorbed and wrapped up in her work. Her internal excuse for abruptly leaving her surprise party was to not lose the flow of words or train of thought as she was in the midst of writing. I don't really think she is inherently mean; she does have loyal friends and communicates with her family but simply doesn't care to "make nice" or pretend. The question of behaving socially conventionally repeats often in this finely crafted novel. One likes Florence for daring to be straightforward and without pretense.


Posted Aug. 30, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Andy Soshul

Join Date: 08/19/15

Posts: 4

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Sometimes you must choose; frankly, not everyone is a nice person by nature. Always being true to one's self while ignoring the feelings of others will not win a lot of fans. Emily learns to respect and even love Florence, but never realized the feelings were mutual. Had Florence been a little less true to herself perhaps she could have enjoyed the company of her granddaughter during her last days. This begs the question: why did Florence tiptoe around Saul for so long, why was she so mindful of his feelings? We are told that she felt sorry for him. Yet she never expressed that same concern for Emily. Sheesh, I suppose I would personally conclude that Florence is just not that nice....


Posted Aug. 30, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

In my opinion she is NOT a nice person. Opinionated, selfish, snobbish, at times cruel...but definitely not nice. Her 'friends' put up with her and accept her. Not sure if it's because they like her or if it's because of her vaulted reputation and they want to be included in her circle. She thinks she's being true to herself. She probably is. She's just not nice.


Posted Aug. 30, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is being true to herself. She is a multifaceted woman who realizes that life is short and patience may be even shorter. I think there is an aspect of Florence that no longer wants to deal with pretense and superficiality and so she has chosen not to do so.


Posted Aug. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 31

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

I agree with melanieb... I imagine she became more 'true to herself' as she aged. Life becomes shorter and priorities change. It takes energy, effort and patience to 'suffer fools gladly' and she put that energy into her writing, instead. She is not 'nice', given that 'nice' means endless tolerance for everyone one meets. I believe she has true friends, and that they aren't just 'putting up with her'.


Posted Aug. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jillf

Join Date: 07/30/13

Posts: 22

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is just being who she is. As people age and realize that their time is limited they tend to lose the ability to "make nice." With the desire to make the most of the time she has left and finish her work, she doesn't have the time or the energy to waste on trivialities. I respect that about her. She accepts herself as is, makes no excuses or apologies.


Posted Aug. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melindah

Join Date: 12/25/12

Posts: 48

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Sometimes when we are true to ourselves, we don't look nice. I am not sure I would say Florence isn't a nice person, but I don't think she suffers triviality. I can see how Janine's fan-like adoration would lack a genuine quality or depth. As for Daniel, it is sad that she didn't have a deeper connection to her son, but it is possible that Florence and Janine see Daniel in the same light? Both women seem to be bored by his steadiness and general unflappability.


Posted Aug. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tracyd

Join Date: 05/31/15

Posts: 30

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

I think it's a combination of both. She is true to herself and wants to gets to the important business. But she seems to be a little cruel about it sometimes. And I think she enjoys the fact that some of can be written off as "cranky old lady" behavior so it is excused.


Posted Aug. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cynthiao

Join Date: 08/31/15

Posts: 14

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

She is one of those very smart people that is so set on the task she has at hand, that she does not mean to be rude, but is. She is true to herself.


Posted Aug. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

I think Florence is a little too all about Florence and driven and basically a loner. She is not easy to be around and she does not care who knows it but she sees the bigger picture and applies herself to what she thinks is the right thing to do. It takes a lot of discipline to be able to pursue what you think is important when family and friends have other ideas about how to live life. I think she is a lot like many historical figures that we admire for what they wrote or accomplished but were not particularly liked or accepted in their time. Many well known and highly acclaimed scientists, writers, philosophers and artists were driven loners.


Posted Sep. 01, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianaps

Join Date: 05/29/15

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is a closed up person. She prefers her own company and likes to control any situation that involves her. She doesn't really know how to interact with anyone with the exception of a few close friends. She never bonded with her son much less his wife and the granddaughter.


Posted Sep. 01, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynnw

Join Date: 09/01/11

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is simply being herself. So many times we are so concerned with being politically correct and not hurting anyone's feelings that we are the one hurt or dissatisfied with our lives and choices.


Posted Sep. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

I don't think she was intentionally mean, but she could come across as being pretty uncaring. I got the feeling that she was somewhat of an introvert who rally preferred being alone. This need may have grown with age but I got the impression she was a solitary soul even when she was younger. Maybe if you are a person that prefers your own company, it is different for others to please you.


Posted Sep. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is definitely true to herself. She does what she wants to do. That may appear to be not nice to some people, but she is not trying to be 'not nice'. What others think is not important to her.


Posted Sep. 03, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickys

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 29

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

You can be true to yourself and still be polite, compassionate, caring and honest. It takes more effort but improves relationships and community. I don't think it was wrong of her to leave her surprise party though I think her approach could have been different to appreciate the effort and feelings while also making use of her time they way she wanted to.


Posted Sep. 03, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ruthiea

Join Date: 02/03/14

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

I think Florence is true to herself. She does not suffer fools and she has no patience for social niceties. The fact that she has friends at all leads me to believe that she was a little nicer when she was younger, otherwise I cannot imagine why these people would have put up with her otherwise. Once she gets her diagnosis she becomes even more "true to herself" and less tolerant.

She is not always true to herself in that she is quick to vocalize mean or curt thoughts, but she stops herself from vocalizing positive thoughts, such as when she is happy with her Grand daughter. So sad.


Posted Sep. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kenanr

Join Date: 02/20/14

Posts: 20

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

The larger question is why do we care if Florence is nice? We rarely question a man’s “niceness:, but female characters (and actual live females) are supposed to be likable - why is that? She is smart, articulate, accomplished, self-contained, productive - she is a positive force in society. She walks the walk, and that has to be far more important than nice. Let’s face it; ‘is she nice?’ means did we like her. Maybe feminism has more to do with being equal to men in ALL respects - pay, opportunities, and abilities to be sure, but how about the right to be smug, irritated, selfish, or short tempered with impunity as well? So maybe the question is not is Florence nice - maybe it’s - is Florence a good person? Yes she is. She stands up for what is right. She insists that others be conscientious members of society. She looks after an old colleague who is sick and alone. She does not belittle Saul as that would be too easy and there is nothing to be gained from it. She raised a son who is smart, articulate, loving and generous. She has surrounded herself with like-minded individuals who are there for each other. She expects others to rise to the occasion and will not pander to the lowest common denominator. Her time on the planet has not been squandered, the world is different and most likely better for her having been here. I LIKE her - but the thing I like most about her is that she doesn’t need to be liked. She just needs to be Florence. Being true to oneself should not be a choice - it should be a mandate - the bar by which all behavior is measured. A bar we will fall short of, but an admirable goal none the less.


Posted Sep. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JAKL1

Join Date: 12/06/12

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is true to herself and not a nice person. These characteristic always go hand in hand.


Posted Sep. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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donnac

Join Date: 03/26/14

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

kenanr, you took the words right out of my mouth! I have been waiting for someone to dispute the importance of Florence being 'nice.' A nice person is usually vapid and uninteresting. Florence is anything but vapid. She is not vicious or mean spirited. But I would not describe her as nice because it doesn't do her justice.

As for choosing between nice and true to oneself, I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive.

I liked Florence and would definitely like to have her as a friend.


Posted Sep. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 31

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

kenanr, excellent post, thank you for those thoughtful words and bucking the trend. donnac, just get in there & say it...these discussions tend to be on the boring side if everyone stays 'safe' .... I think with future posts, I'll be thinking "What would Florence say?" The only way to have an interesting conversation here, I think, is to explore various aspects of the question, hang out there on a limb and question everything. JAKL1, "thee characteristics always go hand in hand" ----- Really????? Always??


Posted Sep. 12, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marianned

Join Date: 07/02/15

Posts: 46

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

In my opinion, Florence can be a nice/kind person when she wants to be. The rest of the time, she is focused on herself and her goals, which often results in her coming across as not nice. Do we have to choose? Sometimes, but the people who know us and accept us will also accept the times we're "not nice" because we want to do something important to us, or remain true to something or someone we treasure. At first I detested Florence and considered not finishing the book, but at the end I applauded her for being stronger than most people I know in being true to herself at the expense of almost all else.


Posted Sep. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Carol Rainer

Join Date: 09/03/15

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

She is definitely true to herself. She doesn't have time or the will to "play nice". I love that she hung up on the doctor's line because she was put on hold until he got ready to pick up the phone. I laughed out loud at that one as I have felt very much like doing that myself, but haven't. I am about to be 77 years old and totally related to Florence. As far as she planned for her own death, knowing she was terminally ill and would become a burden eventually, I definitely would do the same.


Posted Sep. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
andreab

Join Date: 07/29/14

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is true to herself and while I support her acting honestly, she should use more tact and sensitivity. I appreciate the fact that she is following her standards but recognize that society requires certain behavior, especially from those who operate with it.


Posted Sep. 15, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Flogig

Join Date: 09/15/15

Posts: 1

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

My name is Florence and I'm 75 years old so right off the bat I related to Florence Gordon. Although I'm not a professional writer as she is, I paint as a hobby and I know very well how important one's work becomes. It takes over everything else, so when I'm painting or even thinking of painting, I have no time for people, even my husband whom I love dearly. My attitude is just leave me alone and let me get on with what I'm doing. Florence Gordon's work is undoubtedly more important to her than a hobby. And, yes, time is running out so she has to use every minute of it. Family gatherings can be terribly boring unless one is surrounded by only those few one truly loves which may not happen too often. Florence Gordon seems to be fed up with people who waste her time, yet she does go to visit her smelly friend and in her way is nice to her. Is Florence Gordon a nice person? She is rather kind to her ex. Compare her to Olive Kitteridge and the answer would be YES!


Posted Sep. 17, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
deeh

Join Date: 03/03/12

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

I, too, immediately thought of Olive Kitteridge at the end of the first chapter. I liked both characters because they were not boring. Irritating, perhaps, but not boring. Florence was definitely being true to herself up to and including the way she ended her life. As life goes on, we do come to realize that there just isn't time for all the BS that conforming to society's rules governing "nice" requires of us. Cutting to the chase can seem abrupt and sometimes rude, but in the long run, it saves time for everybody.


Posted Sep. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gretchenm

Join Date: 06/04/12

Posts: 17

RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

The only people Florence really concerned herself with, if you can call it concern, were people she felt needed defending for various social causes. And perhaps Saul. She had no real true concern for anyone else. I didn't really enjoy her very much.


Posted Oct. 03, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Beth350

Join Date: 04/15/11

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

I didn't see her as a "not nice" person, but rather one who has expended a lot of life and energy on causes and has little patience to spare explaining her causes. She seems to be basically true to her self and I don't think the reader has to "like" her in order to understand.


Posted Oct. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lindah

Join Date: 04/17/14

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RE: In your opinion, is Florence not a nice person, or is she simply being true to herself? Do you have to choose?

Florence is not the kindest, most considerate person nor does she bother with conventional niceties of polite conversation but she is true to herself and passionate about her work. She has, in her opinion, earned the right to do as she wishes which at present is getting her life on paper. Writing is a solitary pursuit and she is singularly driven. She is concerned, an activist, never boring. Nice equated here with pleasant really doesn't enter into it for Florence who is never phony.


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