Three Junes, by Julia Glass

Cover ImageFinished 10-22-11, rating 3.75/5, fiction, 353 pages, pub. 2002

One family, the McLeods, and three Junes, 1989,1995, 1999.  In 1989, we meet the patriarch, Paul, on a trip to Greece that he takes after his wife dies.  We learn about his life in Scotland through flashbacks.  In 1995 we meet his son, Fenno, after Paul has died.  Fenno is a gay man in New York who takes care of a neighbor and friend battling AIDS.  In 1999, we reconnect with Fern, from part 1, as she find herself pregnant and scared.

I liked Paul very much, but wasn’t really drawn into his story.  There wasn’t enough going on for me.  I loved the middle section told from Fenno’s perspective.  He wasn’t the most likeable character ever, but I thought the storyline was great.  The third section completely lost me.  I didn’t get it.  Fern was not nearly compelling enough for her own section.  I know it brought everything full circle, but it wasn’t enough for me.

The book was a mixed bag.  I liked the writing and the family drama.  I like the idea of what Glass was trying to do, but it felt like a gimmick that only half worked.  I would have liked the book a whole lot better if she’d just expanded the middle section to include the first part and then left the last third out altogether. 

I don’t know if I’m making any sense.  It’s a hard book to talk about even if I was willing to fill this post with lots of spoilers.  I’m glad I read it and will definitely give Glass another try.  This was her debut novel and is a National Book Award winner.

This was from my personal library and was chosen for me by Golda and Soft Drink.  Here’s what they had to say…

“I love this book.”  Soft Drink

“Not what I expected, but still good.”  Golda

29 thoughts on “Three Junes, by Julia Glass

  1. Mary says:

    I read this before I started blogging so I looked up my rating on Goodreads. I gave it 3/5. I remember liking it but not loving it. I enjoyed one of her more recent novels – the title escapes me right now.

  2. Caspette says:

    I must admit I am not much into drama books these days, but I thought your review was fair and balanced. Was going to write more but realised little monkey is suspiciously quiet. Better go!

  3. Stephanie D. says:

    I’ve been seeing this around in various places and wondering whether I should pick it up. But judging from your review, I think not and I won’t feel guilty about it : )

  4. JoAnn says:

    I enjoyed this years ago, but can’t remember much about it. Also listened to The Whole World Over a few years later – Fenno makes an appearance in that one, too. I seem to remember more of the plot in TWWO, but neither was really outstanding.

      • Suzanne says:

        I agree that Fenno was the most interesting character. His section is well done. Confusing about the sudden reappearance of Fern who is not developed as a key character in the first section about Paul.
        Agree with a reviewer who said it would not be a Merchant Ivory film but more for Lifetime.

  5. Margot says:

    I read this early this past summer. I really liked it. For me it was an audiobook read and perhaps that clouded my judgement. The characters were really alive for me. I definitely want to read another Julia Glass novel.

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