Finalist for the National Book Award: Christine Schutt’s masterful novel—hailed by John Ashbery as “an amazing achievement”—about a remarkable little girl who comes of age, adrift, in the care of a rotating cast of indifferent relatives
Alice Fivey is seven years old when her father dies, and ten when her mentally fragile mother is institutionalized. So begins the “sleepover life” for Alice. Shuttled among the homes of wealthy relatives, retainers, babysitters, and reluctant caretakers, Alice must learn their habits and adapt if she is to survive. But how is she to remain intact after the loss of her parents, whose troubled pasts are invoked to punish and manipulate her? Books help, as do kindly teachers.
Set largely in the chilly Midwest, the vision of a life in Florida, first offered up by Alice’s father as a promise of good health and balmy weather, grows in significance for Alice. She is an orphan, and as such she must forge a home and an identity beyond that of her namesake: her unstable mother. Alice Fivey, consoled with reading, becomes a storyteller herself, building a home word by word in elegiac, luminous scenes that serve as evidence of the life-giving power of language.
A finalist for the National Book Award, Florida is an elegant, lyrical, and dreamlike first-person portrait of a young artist in early bloom, and a hauntingly beautiful tale of survival and growth told in a unique and unforgettable voice.
“Florida is a haunting work, part narrative, part dream; its images are gripping, its situation compelling. The writing is unforgettable. A wholly original endeavor.” —Mary Gordon, author of The Love of My Youth
“Schutt’s subjects—love, family, death—are not new, but her lush, spilling style is fresh. This slender book grows plump on language.” —Newsday
“[A] sad and funny novel of a little girl adrift amid a group of childish adults . . . Florida is an amazing achievement.” —John Ashbery, author of Quick Question
Christine Schutt is the author of the short-story collections Nightwork and A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer. The former was chosen by poet John Ashbery as the best book of 1996 for the Times Literary Supplement. Schutt’s first novel, Florida, was a National Book Award finalist for fiction in 2004, and her second novel, All Souls, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for fiction in 2009. Her latest novel, Prosperous Friends, is out now from Grove Press.
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