Book Review: Three Junes
Author: Julia Glass
Publisher: Pantheon, 2002
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Audiobook, narrated by John Keating
Source: Public Library
My Rating: A+
I’m currently reading Sighrt Reading by Daphne Kalotay for a TLC Book Tour. You can read my review on Thursday, June 13th. In the promos for Sight Reading they likened it to Julia Glass’ Three Junes. I recall loving Three Junes so I decided to go ahead and read Sight Reading. About half-way through Sight Reading I stopped and went back and re-read Three Junes. I first wrote about Three Junes on the now defunct Quirky Girls Read blog. I’m rerunning my original review here on Joyfully Retired so it will be a part of my personal reading reccord. Here’s what I thought of Three Junes:
Three Junes is organized around three different summers spanning ten years. It centers on the McLouds, a prominent Scottish family. In the first section, June 1989, we meet the father, Paul McLeod. He’s recently widowed and on a tour of Greece. The trip gives him time to analyze his life, his sometimes sad marriage, his three sons, and what to do with the rest of his life. He is attracted to a young American painter, Fern, but doesn’t do anything about it.
Six years later the McLeod family has gathered at the family home in Scotland following Paul McLeod’s death. This section is told in the first person by Fenno, the eldest son. Fenno hasn’t seen his twin brothers in a while because he lives in New York City. He’s a gay bookshop owner there. During this June visit Fenno looks back on childhood memories and connects with his now grown brothers, their wives and children. Through flashbacks he looks at his loves and losses. Fenno is asked to make a decision that will effect the rest of his family.
The third section occurs in June 1999. It focuses on Fern, the young painter Paul McLeod met on his tour of Greece. But now Fern is older, a widow, and pregnant, but afraid to tell the baby’s father. Fern has fled to the house where her friend Tony is staying. It’s a small world, but Tony was also Fenno’s lover. When Fenno comes to visit, a late night discussion about love and family helps Fern work through her problem.
I read an interview with the author in which she said inspiration for her fiction comes when a character “visits” her out of the blue. That idea intrigued me so I thought I’d read one of her books to see if I could figure out which character came to “visit”. Three Junes is Julia Glass’ debut novel and it won the National Book Award in 2002. It’s an amazing book and well worth the re-read.
All of the characters in this novel were unforgettable; they are beautifully created. The character of Fenno was the one who captured my heart. I think this is the one that “visited” the author and lead to the rest of the story. (Strictly my opinion.) Fenno is loveable but complicated. He’s intelligent, well educated, but often unsure of himself. His old-world manners often keep him from saying and doing what he really wants. Fenno’s gay lover often breaks his heart.
Some might call this a relationship novel but it’s not. It’s more than that. It’s a mature examination of love in all it’s forms: love between husband and wive, lovers, siblings, parents and children, between friends and even people and their pets. It’s rich in multi-dementional characters, intelligent, sometimes humorous, and extremely well-written.