Lorna Mott Comes Home: The Latest Novel by Diane Johnson

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Lorna Mott Comes Home: The Latest Novel by Diane Johnson
Et alors! Diane Johnson’s long-awaited novel, Lorna Mott Comes Home, is here! For fans of her trilogy of novels about Americans in France (Le Divorce, Le Mariage, L’Affaire) it’s been a long wait. Was the wait worth it? The short answer is “Mais, oui!” Lorna Mott is a Californian woman “of a certain age” (late 50s? early 60s?) who, after 20 years of living in France decides she’s had enough of her French husband’s philandering ways. She decides to leave him, and returns to San Francisco, where she intends to relaunch her career as an art historian on the lecture circuit, and try to be of help to the three adult children from her first marriage, all of whom are in one kind of trouble or another. (Mostly various kinds of financial trouble.) San Francisco from the Marin Headlands in March 2019 (C) (CC BY-SA 4.0) But almost immediately she experiences the truth that you really can’t go home again, especially after 20 years away. San Francisco is not as she remembered it. When she left France for good she hadn’t had a realistic picture of her native land in her mind; she hadn’t…read about all the shootings, home invasions, homeless people, crashing economy, or heard the stupefying cost of turning your ankle or…of sending twins to nursery school. It’s not only the overall situation in the nation that is upsetting, though. Lorna also finds pretty quickly that her career as a well-respected and in-demand lecturer is not going to be so easy to get going again, if at all, and her first few experiences with it are disappointing encounters with audiences that are really not all that interested in the fascinating history of medieval tapestries from Angers, her current academic passion. The story is set sometime early in the Obama years — exactly what year is not clear, but it’s clear that it is whenever it was that the 2008 economic crisis was accelerating and spreading its ill effects like a cancer throughout the country. Teaching (C) Element5 Digital, Unsplash As in Le Divorce, nearly every chapter begins with an aphorism, but unlike in Le Divorce, which was published nearly 25 years ago, this time all of the aphorisms are written by the author herself. And with 25 years of additional “lived experience” she has plenty of additional wisdom of her own to offer readers: no need to call on the likes of Emerson, Benjamin Constant, and Montaigne this time for the pithy, sometimes witty, sometimes rueful, always wise words about life that begin each chapter.
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Lead photo credit : Book Review: Lorna Mott Comes Home: A Novel by Diane Johnson (C) Amazon, Diane Johnson

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Janet Hulstrand is a freelance writer, editor and teacher who divides her time between France and the U.S. She is the author of "Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You," and she writes frequently on France for a variety of publications, including her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” for the education abroad program of Queens College of the City University of New York; classes at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C.; and Writing from the Heart workshop/retreats in Essoyes, a beautiful little village in the Champagne region (l’Aube).