Probably best known for her Francophile early 21st-century works such as Le Divorce, Le Mariage, and L’Affaire, Johnson is perennially underappreciated by readers who turn to her expecting rom-com beach reads. Sure, Le Divorce was turned into a somewhat popular movie starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts. But don’t let her popular successes fool you. Johnson is readable and entertaining, but she is also one of America’s foremost practitioners of the now unfortunately niche art of the comedy of manners, more Edith Wharton than Helen Fielding. With a dry sensibility and a cold, observant eye, Johnson uses her books to vivisect class and social standing, both. What we’re left with in Lorna Mott Comes Home is an exacting and often hilarious portrait of cold, white California Episcopalians. The characters are so marooned within themselves that one is reminded of an old anecdote about the origins of the taciturn Yankee: They started out believing that a person could only truly be intimate with God, and then, when they stopped believing in God, they carried on believing that intimacy is impossible with everyone else. Take, for example, the exchange between granddaughter Julie and her grandfather, Lorna’s first husband, Randall Mott, on seeing each other for the first time in three years:
“I really hope I’m not disturbing you, Grandpa Ran.”
“We don’t see enough of you Julie, tell me what brings you.”
I have warmer interactions each week with strangers at the grocery store.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor