Lorna Mott Comes Home

Knopf. Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780525521082. $28. F
A past mistress of the comedy of manners, as evidenced by her award-nominated Le Divorce and Le Marriage, Johnson returns with a genial story exploring the everyday scrapes and inconveniences of late middle age before averring that “sometimes, though rarely, things sort themselves out.” Sixtyish American Lorna Mott is married to a Frenchman whose apparent philandering she has found tiring; she decides to leave him, returning home to San Francisco. She’s determined to start life anew, relaunching a languishing art history career and attending to her three grown children. There’s Peggy, divorced and struggling, with bright-eyed teenage daughter Julie; the successful Curt, who abandoned his family and vanished to Thailand after suffering a terrible accident; and troubled middle child Hams. Lorna’s first husband, Ran, pointedly refuses to help them, and though Lorna hasn’t seen him for decades, in the end she’ll be wrapped up with his new family as well, even as she realizes that she’s out of touch with the art world and the realities of contemporary urban American life. Maybe she’s not so ready for what’s next.
VERDICT The crises here aren’t huge, but they are real and insightfully played as Johnson delivers a satisfying understanding of life’s constant vagaries.
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