From the author of the best-selling Le Divorce and Le Mariage, a comedy of contemporary manners, morals, (ex)marriages, and motherhood (past, present, and future)--about an American woman leaving her 20-year marriage to her French second husband, returning to her native San Francisco and to the entwining lives of her children and grandchildren. "Delightful"--Claire Messud (Harper's Magazine); "Razor-sharp prose and astute observations ... a treat"--Publishers Weekly (starred review).Lorna Mott Dumas, small, pretty, high-strung, the epitome of a successful woman--lovely offspring, grandchildren, health, a French husband, a delightful house and an independent career as an admired art lecturer involving travel and public appearances, expensive clothes. She's a woman with an uncomplicated, sociable nature and an intellectual life. But in an impulsive and planned decision, Lorna has decided to leave her husband, a notorious tombeur (seducer), and his small ancestral village in France, and return to America, much more suited to her temperament than the rectitude of formal starchy France. For Lorna, a beautiful idyll is over, finished, done . . . In Lorna Mott Comes Home, Diane Johnson brings us into the dreamy, anxiety-filled American world of Lorna Mott Dumas, where much has changed and where she struggles to create a new life to support herself. Into the mix--her ex-husband, and the father of her three grown children (all supportive), and grandchildren with their own troubles (money, divorce, real estate, living on the fringe; a thriving software enterprise; a missing child in the far east; grandchildren--new hostages to fortune; and, one, 15 years old, a golden girl yet always different, diagnosed at a young age with diabetes, and now pregnant and determined to have the child) . . . In the midst of a large cast, the precarious balance of comedy and tragedy, happiness and anxiety, contentment and striving, generosity and greed, love and sex, Diane Johnson, our Edith Wharton of expat life, comes home to America to deftly, irresistibly portray, with the lightest of touch, the way we live now.
- ISBN-13: 9780525521082
- ISBN-10: 0525521089
- Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
- Publish Date: June 2021
- Dimensions: 9.29 x 6.54 x 1.34 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.37 pounds
- Page Count: 336
Lorna Mott Comes Home
Just as the protagonist of Lorna Mott Comes Home returns to the United States after 18 years in France, author Diane Johnson returns to fiction 13 years after her last novel, Lulu in Marrakech. But while Johnson’s reemergence will be welcome news to fans of her leisurely writing style, the reception to Lorna Mott’s San Francisco homecoming varies among the book’s characters.
Art historian Lorna lands stateside at the time of “the handsome new president, Obama.” She has left her second husband, Armand-Loup, and his “wild infidelity” back in their French town of Pont-les-Puits. As Johnson memorably shows, the U.S. has changed during Lorna’s absence. Astronomical property prices and increased homelessness are two of many manifestations of a widening wealth chasm.
Lorna’s three grown kids from her first marriage are also different. Divorced Peggy makes crafts such as personalized dog collars to make ends meet. Ex-hippie Hams and his pregnant wife, Misty, struggle financially. Curt had “a thriving software enterprise” until a bike accident put him in a five-month coma. He’s now in Southeast Asia, trying to find himself. Complicating the picture further are Lorna’s first husband, Ran; his wife, Amy, “a Silicon Valley millionairess”; and their daughter, 15-year-old Gilda, who gets pregnant by a Stanford-bound 20-year-old.
Sound complicated? It is, but delightfully so, and that’s before an unusual complexity: In Pont-les-Puits, mudslides dislodge the bones of people interred in a cemetery, including those of an American painter. French authorities have named Lorna as the painter’s next of kin and would like for her to pay for his reinterment.
Lorna Mott Comes Home takes time to develop its characters, much like the works of Henry James and Edith Wharton, the comedy-of-manners forebears to whom Johnson is often compared. But admirers will savor the ease with which Johnson moves from one storyline to the next.
Early in the novel, Lorna gives a poorly received lecture on medieval tapestries that had “a romantic history of being lost, hidden, forgotten through the centuries.” That’s the poignant essence of this novel. Like those tapestries, a life is fragile and vulnerable to being forgotten, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful.