Florey, Kitty Burns 1943–
Florey, Kitty Burns 1943–
PERSONAL: Born May 2, 1943, in Syracuse, NY; daughter of Herbert F. and Geraldine Burns; married Kenneth I. Florey (a college professor), August 12, 1967 (divorced, 1993); married Ron Savage (a painter and photographer), 2000; children: (first marriage) J. Katherine. Education: Boston University, B.A., 1965; Syracuse University, M.A., 1971.
ADDRESSES: Home—Madison, CT; Sullivan County, NY. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and editor.
Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, Melville House (Hoboken, NJ), 2006.
Family Matters, Seaview Books (New York, NY), 1979.
Chez Cordelia, Seaview Books (New York, NY), 1980.
The Garden Path, Seaview/Putnam (New York, NY), 1983.
Real Life, Morrow (New York, NY), 1985.
Duet, Morrow (New York, NY), 1987.
Vigil for a Stranger, Broken Moon Press (Seattle, WA), 1995.
Souvenir of Cold Springs, Counterpoint (New York, NY), 2001.
Solos, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Kitty Burns Florey's novels explore the complexities of familial relationships, from parents and children to siblings, as well as the mating games of men and women. Her first novel, Family Matters, is a drama of the changing relationships between a daughter, mother and grandmother. Writing in London's Times Literary Supplement, contributor Mary Furness observed: "Family Matters is a fine book, constructed with subtlety and skill, written straightforwardly and elegantly, with depth of feeling and breadth of perception and without affectation of style or sentiment."
The protagonist of Family Matters, Betsy Roscoe, a career-minded associate professor of eighteenth-century English literature, is facing middle-age angst. In the midst of her struggle over whether to remain pregnant and expect her lover to leave or terminate her pregnancy and continue the relationship, her mother lies on her deathbed while her grandmother contends that she is not her real grandmother. Washington Post contributor Michele Slung called Florey's first novel "amazingly skillful." Slung commented that Florey's "gracefully observant style informs our empathy for her characters, and, caught up in this tightly focused domestic drama, we feel, as she does, that family matters."
Real Life and Duet offer distinct views of loneliness and unrequited love. Real Life's protagonist, Dorthea Gilbert, deals with an unexpected visit by her orphaned nephew. Coping with the sudden change in her rather predictable life, Dorthea must confront her long-repressed desire for motherhood. In Duet Florey creates the antithesis of the emotionally remote Dorthea Gilbert in the obsessive Anna. The story focuses on the irony behind Anna's lifelong infatuation with Will Westen-burg: when she finally attains the object of her obsession she discovers the painful truth that maybe she never really knew him. Publishers Weekly contributor Sybil Steinberg called Duet "a very appealing tale."
Souvenir of Cold Springs spans five decades as the family secrets of an extended clan are slowly revealed. The novel eschews linear development, and instead works through a collage of narrative viewpoints from various female characters. Booklist contributor Whitney Scott wrote of the work: "Densely written, the novel's overlapping perspectives may confuse some readers while delighting others."
Florey is also author Vigil for a Stranger. The story focuses on a woman who happens to stumble across the name of an old friend whom she thought was dead. As she begins to search to see if the person is alive, she encounters truths about her own life and her sanity. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Florey writes with straightforward simplicity."
In her novel Solos, Florey writes about Emily Lime, an eccentric photographer fascinated by words and driven by an inner compulsion to photograph three words—dog, bread, and time—repeatedly. Emily's life becomes complicated, however, when she falls in love with Marcus Reed, who, at age twenty, is not only sixteen years younger than her but also the son of her ex-husband, who has asked Marcus to kill her so he can inherit valuable art works. Referring to the novel as "witty … [and] charming," a Publishers Weekly contributor also called it "a light, winning read." Carol Haggas, writing in Booklist, referred to the novel as "an utterly charming tale of unlikely love." A contributor to Word Ways noted that Solos "is saturated with wordplay." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "A pleasant and well-made tale, the more agreeable for its light tone and touch."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2001, Whitney Scott, review of Souvenir of Cold Springs, p. 1979; July, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of Solos, p. 1817.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2004, review of Solos, p. 551.
Publishers Weekly, August 14, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of Duet, p. 95; October 17, 1994, review of Vigil for a Stranger, p. 78; November 24, 1997, "Cross-Country Synergy," article about author book deal, p. 23; July 26, 2004, review of Solos, p. 38.
Times Literary Supplement (London, England), March 27, 1981, Mary Furness, review of Family Matters, p. 334.
Washington Post, February 15, 1980, Michele Slung, review of Family Matters, p. C2.
Word Ways, February, 2005, review of Solos, p. 25.
Kitty Burns Florey Home Page, http://www.kittyburnsflorey.com (October 18, 2006).