Three Junes

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Overview

Three Junes is a vividly textured symphonic novel set on both sides of the Atlantic during three fateful summers in the lives of a Scottish family. In June of 1989, Paul McLeod, the recently widowed patriarch, becomes infatuated with a young American artist while traveling through Greece and is compelled to relive the secret

sorrows of his marriage. Six years later, Paul's death reunites his sons at Tealing, their idyllic childhood home, where...
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Three Junes

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Overview

Three Junes is a vividly textured symphonic novel set on both sides of the Atlantic during three fateful summers in the lives of a Scottish family. In June of 1989, Paul McLeod, the recently widowed patriarch, becomes infatuated with a young American artist while traveling through Greece and is compelled to relive the secret

sorrows of his marriage. Six years later, Paul's death reunites his sons at Tealing, their idyllic childhood home, where Fenno, the eldest, faces a choice that puts him at the center of his family's future. A lovable, slightly repressed gay man, Fenno leads the life of an aloof expatriate in the West Village, running a shop filled with books and birdwatching gear. He believes himself safe from all emotional entanglements--until a worldly neighbor presents him with an extraordinary gift and a seductive photographer makes him an unwitting subject. Each man draws Fenno into territories of the heart he has never braved before, leading him toward an almost unbearable loss that will reveal to him the nature of love.

Love in its limitless forms--between husband and wife, between lovers, between people and animals, between parents and children--is the force that moves these characters' lives, which collide again, in yet another June, over a Long Island dinner table. This time it is Fenno who meets and captivates Fern, the same woman who captivated his father in Greece ten years before. Now pregnant with a son of her own, Fern, like Fenno and Paul before him, must make peace with her past to embrace her future. Elegantly detailed yet full of emotional suspense, often as comic as it is sad, Three Junes is a glorious triptych about how we learnto live, and live fully, beyond incurable grief and betrayals of the heart--how family ties, both those we're born into and those we make, can offer us redemption and joy.

Winner of the 2002 National Book Award

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This artfully constructed debut novel is told in three parts, each set in the month of June. As she tells the tales of love, loss, and the bonds between members of a complicated Scottish family, Julia Glass poignantly explores the role of fate and serendipity in bringing people together, as well as the communication gaps and shuttered emotions that often keep them apart.
The New Yorker
This enormously accomplished début novel is a triptych that spans three summers, across a decade, in the disparate lives of the McLeod family. The widowed father, a newspaper publisher who maintains the family manse in Scotland, is chary, dogged, and deceptively mild. Fenno, the eldest son, runs an upscale bookshop in the West Village, and his most intimate relationship -- aside from almost anonymous grapplings with a career house-sitter named Tony -- is with a parrot called Felicity. One of Fenno's younger brothers is a Paris chef whose wife turns out pretty daughters like so many brioches; the other is a veterinarian whose wife wants Fenno to help them have a baby. Glass is interested in how risky love is for some people, and she writes so well that what might seem like farce is rich, absorbing, and full of life.
Publishers Weekly
The artful construction of this seductive novel and the mature, compassionate wisdom permeating it would be impressive for a seasoned writer, but it's all the more remarkable in a debut. This narrative of the McLeod family during three vital summers is rich with implications about the bonds and stresses of kin and friendship, the ache of loneliness and the cautious tendrils of renewal blossoming in unexpected ways. Glass depicts the mysterious twists of fate and cosmic (but unobtrusive) coincidences that bring people together, and the self-doubts and lack of communication that can keep them apart, in three fluidly connected sections in which characters interact over a decade. These people are entirely at home in their beautifully detailed settings Greece, rural Scotland, Greenwich Village and the Hamptons and are fully dimensional in their moments of both frailty and grace. Paul McLeod, the reticent Scots widower introduced in the first section, is the father of Fenno, the central character of the middle section, who is a reserved, self-protective gay bookstore owner in Manhattan; both have dealings with the third section's searching young artist, Fern Olitsky, whose guilt in the wake of her husband's death leaves her longing for and fearful of beginning anew. Other characters are memorably individualistic: an acerbic music critic dying of AIDS, Fenno's emotionally elusive mother, his sibling twins and their wives, and his insouciant lover among them. In this dazzling portrait of family life, Glass establishes her literary credentials with ingenuity and panache. Agent, Gail Hochman. 7-city author tour. (May 10) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This strong and memorable debut novel draws the reader deeply into the lives of several central characters during three separate Junes spanning ten years. At the story's onset, Scotsman Paul McLeod, the father of three grown sons, is newly widowed and on a group tour of the Greek islands as he reminisces about how he met and married his deceased wife and created their family. Next, in the book's longest section, we see the world through the eyes of Paul's eldest son, Fenno, a gay man transplanted to New York City and owner of a small bookstore, who learns lessons about love and loss that allow him to grow in unexpected ways. And finally there is Fern, an artist and book designer whom Paul met on his trip to Greece several years earlier. She is now a young widow, pregnant and also living in New York City, who must make sense of her own past and present to be able to move forward in her life. In this novel, expectations and revelations collide in startling ways. Alternately joyful and sad, this exploration of modern relationships and the families people both inherit or create for themselves is highly recommended for all fiction collections. Maureen Neville, Trenton P.L., NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Readers may be reminded of Evelyn Waugh and, especially, Angus Wilson by the rich characterizations and narrative sweep that grace this fine debut about three summers in-and surrounding-the lives of a prominent and prosperous Scottish family. Recently widowed Paul MacLeod languishes through a guided tour of Greece in 1989, buoyed by a hopeful, not-quite-romantic relationship with a Daisy Miller-like American artist. This sequence is a rich blend of carefully juxtaposed present action and extended flashbacks to Paul's youth and wartime service, management of his family's highly successful newspaper, and conflicted marriage to the woman whom he adored and who was probably unfaithful to him. The second "summer" (of 1995) brings Paul's gay eldest son Fenno home from New York City (where he co-owns a small bookstore) for his father's burial, and his own roiling memories of compromised relationships with his two brothers and their families and with former lovers and mentors. Fenno's account of what he wryly calls "a life of chiaroscuro-or scuroscuro: between one kind of darkness and another" is the best thing here. The third summer, of 1999, focuses on Fern, the artist Paul had briefly encountered during his Grecian junket. Glass deftly sketches in Fern's history of romantic and marital disappointments (she seems to be fatally attracted to men who are gay, bisexual, self-destructive, or just plain undependable) as well as present confusions (she's living with Fenno's former lover). But the manner in which Fern is coincidentally re-connected with the surviving MacLeods is both ingeniously skillful and just a tad too contrived. Glass makes it all work, though the parts are not uniformly credibleor compelling. Nevertheless, a rather formidable debut. The traditional novel of social relations is very much alive in Three Junes. Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen, among other exemplars, would surely approve.
From the Publisher
"Julia Glass's talent just sends chills up my spine; her novel, Three Junes, is a marvel."
—Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

"Three Junes has the rich pleasures of a ninetenth-century novel and the rush of New York life of the last ten years. I'm amazed it's a first novel—it is a mature, captivating work of fiction."
— John Casey

"Three Junes almost threatens to burst with all the life it contains. Glass' ability to locate the immense within the particular, and to simultaneously illuminate and deepen the mysteries of her characters' lives, would be marvelous in any novelist. In a first-time novelist, it's extraordinary."
—Michael Cunningham

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385721424
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/22/2003
  • Edition description: First Anchor Books Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 353
  • Sales rank: 93,946
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Julia Glass

Julia Glass's first novel, Three Junes, won the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction and was also a selection of ABC/ Good Morning America's READ THIS! Book Club. Her fiction has been honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, three Nelson Algren Fiction Awards, the Tobias Wolff Award, and the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Medal for Best Novella. She is spending the 2004-2005 academic year as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, where she is finishing her second novel, A Piece of Cake. Currently, she lives outside Boston with her family.

Biography

After graduating from Yale with a degree in art, Julia Glass received a fellowship to study figurative painting in Paris. Upon her return, she moved to New York, where she became involved in the city's vibrant art scene, worked as a copy editor, and wrote the occasional magazine column. She had always been a good writer, but her energies were initially focused on an art career. Finally, the pull to write became too strong. Glass put down her paint brush and picked up her pen

One of her earliest short stories, never published, was a semi-autobiographical piece called "Souvenirs." Loosely based on her experiences as a student traveling in Greece, the story was (by Glass's own admission) pretty formulaic. Yet, she found herself returning to it over the years, haunted by the faint memory of someone she had met on that trip: an older man whose wife had recently died.

Then, during the early 1990s, Glass experienced some serious setbacks in her life: Within the space of a few years, her marriage ended in divorce, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her beloved younger sister -- a dynamic woman with a seemingly wonderful life -- committed suicide. Devastated by her sister's death, Glass turned to writing as a way of working through her grief and loss. Suddenly, the memory of the sad widower in Greece took on a melancholy resonance. She retrieved "Souvenirs" from her desk drawer for one final rewrite, expanded it to novella length, and spun it from a different point of view. Renamed "Collies," the story won the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Medal in 1999. It also became the first section of Glass's remarkable 2002 debut novel, the National Book Award winner Three Junes.

After a spate of "postmodern" bestsellers, Three Junes was like a breath of fresh air, harkening back to an era of more straightforward, gimmick-free writing. Spanning a period of ten years (1989-1999), the novel covers three disparate, event-filled months in the lives of a well-to-do Scottish family named McLeod, weaving a cast of colorful, interconnected characters into a tapestry of contemporary social mores that would do Glass's 19th-century role model George Eliot proud.

The same dazzling sprawl that distinguished her acclaimed debut has characterized Glass's subsequent efforts -- rich, dense narratives that unfold from multiple points of view and illuminate the full, complicated spectrum of relationships (among parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, friends and lovers). In an interview with NPR, she explained her penchant for ensemble casts and panoramic multidimensional stories: "I see life as increasingly complex, vivid, colorful, crazy, chaotic. That's the world I write about...the world I live in."

Good To Know

Glass's first published writing was a regular column on pets called "Animal Love" that ran in Glamour magazine for two years in the late eighties. Says Glass, "I grew up in a home where animals were ever-present and often dominated our lives. There were always horses, dogs, and cats, as well as a revolving infirmary of injured wildlife being nursed by my sister the aspiring vet. Without any conscious intention on my part, animals come to play a significant role in my fiction: in Three Junes, a parrot and a pack of collies; in The Whole World Over, a bulldog named The Bruce. To dog lovers, by the way, I recommend My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley -- by far the best 'animal book' I've ever read."

She is an avid rug-hooker in her free time. She explains that "unlike the more restrictive needlepoint, this medium permits me to work with yarn in a fluid, painterly fashion." Several of her rugs were reproduced in a book called Punch Needle Rug Hooking, by Amy Oxford (Schiffer Books).

Glass considers herself a "confirmed, unrepentant late bloomer." She explains, "I talked late, swam late, did not learn to ride a bike until college -- and might never have walked or learned to drive a car if my parents hadn't overruled my lack of motivation and virtually forced me to embrace both forms of transportation. I suspect I was happy to sit in a corner with a book. Though I didn't quite plan it that way, I had my two sons at just about the same ages my mother saw me and my sister off to college, and my first novel was published when I was 46. This 'tardiness' isn't something I'm proud of, but I'm happy to be an inspiration to others who arrive at these milestones later than most of us do."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Julie Glass
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 23, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale College, 1978; Scholar of the House in Art, Summa Cum Laude, 1978

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Paul chose greece for its predictable whiteness: the blanching heat by day, the rush of stars at night, the glint of the lime-washed houses crowding its coast. Blinding, searing, somnolent, fossilized Greece.

Joining a tour–that was the gamble, because Paul is not a gregarious sort. He dreads fund-raisers and drinks parties, all occasions at which he must give an account of himself to people he will never see again. Yet there are advantages to the company of strangers. You can tell them whatever you please: no lies perhaps, but no affecting truths. Paul does not fabricate well (though once, foolishly, he believed that he could), and the single truth he's offered these random companions–that recently he lost his wife–brought down a flurry of theatrical condolence. (A hand on his at the breakfast table in Athens, the very first day: "Time, time, and more time. Let Monsignor Time do his tedious, devious work." Marjorie, a breathy schoolmistress from Devon.)

Not counting Jack, they are ten. Paul is one of three men; the other two, Ray and Solly, are appended to wives. And then, besides Marjorie, there are two pairs of women traveling together, in their seventies at least: a surprisingly spry quartet who carry oversize binoculars with which they ogle everything and everyone, at appallingly close range. Seeing the sights, they wear identical, brand-new hiking boots; to the group's communal dinners, cork-soled sandals with white crocheted tops. Paul thinks of them as the quadruplets.

In the beginning, there was an all-around well-mannered effort to mingle, but then, sure as sedimentation, the two married couples fell together andthe quadruplets reverted more or less to themselves. Only Marjorie, trained by profession to dole out affection equally, continues to treat everyone like a new friend, and with her as their muse, the women coddle Paul like an infant. His room always has the best view, his seat on the boat is always in shade; the women always insist. The husbands treat him as though he were vaguely leprous. Jack finds the whole thing amusing: "Delightful, watching you cringe." Jack is their guide: young and irreverent, thank God. Reverence would send Paul over the edge.

Even this far from home there are reminders, like camera flashes or shooting pains. On the streets, in the plazas, on the open-decked ferries, he is constantly sighting Maureen: any tall lively blonde, any sunstruck girl with a touch of the brazen. German or Swedish or Dutch, there she is, again and again. Today she happens to be an American, one of two girls at a nearby table. Jack has noticed them too, Paul can tell, though both men pretend to read their shared paper–day before yesterday's Times. By no means beautiful, this girl, but she has a garish spirit, a laugh she makes no effort to stifle. She wears an eccentrically wide-brimmed hat, tied under her chin with a feathery scarf. ("Miss Forties Nostalgic," Maureen would have pegged her. "These gals think they missed some grand swinging party.") Little good the hat seems to have done her, though: she is sunburnt geranium pink, her arms crazed with freckles. The second girl is the beauty, with perfect pale skin and thick cocoa-colored hair; Jack will have an eye on that one.

The girls talk too loudly, but Paul enjoys listening. In their midtwenties, he guesses, ten years younger than his sons. "Heaven. I am telling you exquisite,"says the dark-haired girl in a husky, all-knowing voice. "A sensual sort of coup de foudre."

"You go up on donkeys? Where?" the blonde answers eagerly.

"This dishy farmer rents them. He looks like Giancarlo Giannini. Those soulful sad-dog eyes alone are worth the price of admission. He rides alongside and whacks them with a stick when they get ornery."

"Whacks them?"

"Oh just prods them a little, for God's sake. Nothing inhumane. Listen–I'm sure the ones that hump olives all day really get whacked. By donkey standards, these guys live like royalty." She rattles through a large canvas satchel and pulls out a map, which she opens across the table. The girls lean together.

"Valley of the Butterflies!" The blonde points.

Jack snorts quietly from behind his section of the Times. "Don't tell the dears, but it's moths."

Paul folds his section and lays it on the table. He is the owner and publisher of the Yeoman, the Dumfries-Galloway paper. When he left, he promised to call in every other day. He has called once in ten and felt grateful not to be needed. Paging through the news from afar, he finds himself tired of it all. Tired of Maggie Thatcher, her hedgehog eyes, her vacuous hair, her cotton-mouthed edicts on jobs, on taxes, on terrorist acts. Tired of bickering over the Chunnel, over untapped oil off the Isle of Mull. Tired of rainy foggy pewtered skies. Here, too, there are clouds, but they are inconsequential, each one benign as a bridal veil. And wind, but the wind is warm, making a cheerful fuss of the awning over the tables, carrying loose napkins like birds to the edge of the harbor, slapping waves hard against the hulls of fishing boats.

Paul closes his eyes and sips his ice coffee, a new pleasure. He hasn't caught the name for it yet; Jack, who is fluent, orders it for him. Greek is elusive, maddening. In ten days, Paul can say three words. He can say yes, the thoroughly counterintuitive neh. He can wish passersby in the evening–as everyone here does him–kalespera. And he can stumble over "if you please,"something like paricolo (ought to be a musical term, he decides, meaning "joyfully, but with caution"). Greek seems to Paul, more than French or Italian, the language of love: watery, reflective, steeped in thespian whispers. A language of words without barbs, without corners.

When he opens his eyes, he is shocked to see her staring at him. She smiles at his alarm. "You don't mind, I hope."

"Mind?" He blushes, but then sees that she is holding a pencil in one hand and, with the other, bracing a large book on the edge of her table. Her beautiful companion is gone.

Paul straightens his spine, aware how crumpled and slouched he must look.

"Oh no. Down the way you were. Please."

"Sorry. How was I?" Paul laughs. "A little more like this?" He sinks in the chair and crosses his arms.

"That's it." She resumes her drawing. "You're Scottish, am I right?"

"Well thank God she hasn't mistook us for a pair of Huns," says Jack.

"Not you. You're English. But you," she says to Paul. "I can tell, the way you said little, the particular way your t's disappeared. I'm wild about Scotland. Last year I went to the festival. I biked around one of the lochs. . . . Also, I shouldn't say this, you'll think I'm so typically rudely American, but you look, you know, like you marched right out of that Dewars ad. The one, you know, with the collies?"

"Collies?" Paul sits up again.

"Oh, sorry–Madison Avenue nonsense. They show this shepherd, I mean a modern one, very tweedy, rugged, kind of motley but dashing, on the moors with his Border collies. Probably a studio setup out in L.A. But I like to think it's real. The shepherd. The heather. The red phone booth–call box, right? . . . Inverness." She draws the name out like a tail of mist, evoking a Brigadoon sort of Scotland. "I'd love to have one of those collies, I've heard they're the smartest dogs."

"Would you?" says Paul, but leaves it at that. Not long ago he would have said, My wife raises collies–national champions, shipped clear to New Zealand. And yes, they are the smartest. The most cunning, the most watchful.

"Hello here you are, you truants you." Marjorie, who's marched up behind Jack, bats his arm with her guidebook. "We're off to maraud some poor unsuspecting shopkeepers. Lunch, say, at half past one, convene in the hotel lobby?" Paul waves to the others, who wait beyond the caf? awning. They look like a lost platoon in their knife-pleated khakis and sensible hats, bent over maps, gazing and pointing in all directions.

"Tally ho, Marj!" says Jack. "Half one in the hotel lobby. Half two, a little siesta; half three, a little . . . adventure. Pass muster with you?"

"Right-oh," she says, saluting. She winks, accepting his tease.

This has become their routine: The first full day of each new place, Marjorie directs an expedition for souvenirs–as if to gather up the memories before the experience. While the others trail happily behind her, Jack and Paul read in a taverna, hike the streets, or wander through nondescript local ruins and talk about bland things, picking up odd stones to examine and discard. Paul buys no souvenirs. He should send cards to the boys–he did when they were in fact boys–but the kinds of messages adults send one another on postcards remind him precisely of the chatter he dislikes so much at drinks parties or sitting on a plane beside yet another, more alarming breed of strangers: those from whom you have no escape but the loo.

There's one on every tour, Jack says of Marjorie: a den mother, someone who likes to do his job for him. And Marj is a good sport, he says, not a bad traveler. He likes her. But she exasperates Paul. She is a heroine out of a Barbara Pym novel: bookish, dependable, magnanimously stubborn, and no doubt beneath it all profoundly disappointed. At an age when she might do well to tint her hair, she's taken up pride in her plainness as if it were a charitable cause. She dresses and walks like a soldier, keeps her hair cropped blunt at the earlobes. She proclaims herself a romantic but seems desperately earthbound, a stickler for schedules. Jack tells her again and again how un-Greek this attitude is, but she is not a when-in-Rome type of tourist. ("Right then: three on the dot at the Oracle, tea time!" Marjorie, sizing up Delphi.)

She turns now and waves to her regiment, strutting through the maze of tables. Jack smiles fondly. "O gird up thy loins, ye salesmen of Minotaur tea towels!" The American girl laughs loudly, a laugh of unblemished joy.

When the war ended, when Paul shipped back to Dumfries from Verona, he found out, along with his mates, that half the girls they'd known in school had promised themselves to Americans–even, God forbid, to Canadians. Many were already married, awaiting their journey across the Atlantic with the restless thrill of birds preparing to migrate. Among them were some of the prettiest, cleverest, most accomplished and winning of the girls Paul remembered.

Maureen might have been one of those brides, if she'd chosen to be. But Maureen, pretty, outspoken, intrepid, knew what she wanted. She did not intend to wager away her future. "Those gals haven't a clue what they're in for, no sir. The man may be a prince, sure, but what's he hauling you home to? You haven't a clue, not a blistering clue." She said this to Paul when she hardly knew him. Paul admired her frankness–that and her curly pinkish blond hair, her muscular arms, her Adriatic eyes.

When Paul came back, he was depressed. Not because he missed the war; what idiot would? Not because he lacked direction, some sort of career; how thoroughly that was mapped out. Not even because he longed for a girl; for someone like Paul, there were plenty of prospects. He was sad because the war had not made him into what he had hoped it would–worse, he came to realize, what so many similar fools hoped it would. He supposed he could assume it had made him a man, whatever that meant, but it had not given him the dark, pitiless eye of an artist. All that posturing courage (all that aiming, killing, closing your eyes and haplessly pretending to kill but rarely knowing if you had); the simultaneous endurance and fear of death–the dying itself heard in keening rifts between gunfire or in continuous horrific pleadings–all those dire things, Paul had thought when he shipped out, might plant in him the indelible passion of a survivor, a taut inner coil like the workings of an heirloom watch. He had told this rubbish to no one and was grateful to himself for that much. Of the virtues his father preached, discretion began to seem the most rewarding: it kept people guessing and sometimes, by default, admiring.

Mornings he spent at the paper: proofing galleys, answering telephones, cataloguing local events. He learned the ropes as his father expected. But after a late lunch at the Globe, often alone, he might wander into the bar, lose all sense of time and obligation. At night he sat in a neglected room of his parents' large cold house and tried to write short stories. Paul was a good reporter–later he would win awards–but everything he tried to conjure from his heart sounded mealy and frail when he took it out to read in the morning.

The first year after the war was a time of modest anticipation. There was immense relief, drunken cheer, a stalwart sense of vindication. But the people he knew were careful not to voice grand expectations. When Paul stood back to consider the girls he courted, their dreams seemed to him self-consciously stunted; to be fair, so was his enthusiasm for courtship.

Maureen was not one of the girls from school. She worked at the Globe, sometimes as cook or barkeep, sometimes as a maid for the upstairs rooms. Always variety, she said. Always good company. Maureen flowered in the company of men. On nights she took the bar, she'd smoke, pour tall whiskeys, and hold her own on politics and farming. She told Paul without hesitation exactly what she thought of his father's editorial opinions. ("Ah, the specially elegant ignorance of gentlemen!" she crooned–a remark that made him smile for days.)

One winter night after dinner, when his sisters had a dance show turned up so loud that it made his work more discouraging than usual, Paul took his father's Humber and aimlessly cruised the town, stopping at last in the High Street.

The night crowd at the Globe was rural, more working class than the customers at lunch. Feeling sorry for himself, despising his unshakable sense of superiority, Paul drank too much and argued too sharply. He knew now that it was just a matter of time before he'd give it up: "the fiction of the fiction," he'd come to call it. At closing time he was the last man in the bar. He had no desire to face the cold, to be hit by the disappointment of no one's company but his own. He watched Maureen wipe the snifters, lock the till, polish the bar to a glassy sheen.

Copyright 2002 by Julia Glass
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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Julia Glass, author of Three Junes
Q: What led you to create Three Junes?

A: Sometimes it's hard for me to think of this novel as something I created, because I never sat down and planned it out as a whole, the way you might cut and piece together a suit from a bolt of cloth (as I'd always imagined a novel gets written). Three Junes grew over several years, like a tree—organically and at first in odd, sporadic bursts—starting out as a short story called "Souvenirs," which was based on an experience I had while traveling in Greece after college. One of the first stories I wrote as an adult, it was your typical ingenue-abroad, loss-of-innocence tale with a predictably idyllic setting, and I was hoping to sell it to Cosmopolitan magazine, where I was working as a copy editor. (In those days, short stories—some by wonderful writers like Laurie Colwin, Lorrie Moore, and Elinor Lipman—were a fixture of the magazine. Often, there were two in a single issue, just as there once were in the New Yorker.) Reportedly, Helen Gurley Brown read my story but thought the heroine too "privileged" for her readers—that is, not your good old "mouseburger" COSMO Girl—so into a drawer it went. A few years later, I looked at the story again and decided that Paul, who had been little more than a third wheel or a foil, was much more interesting than Fern or Jack, and I decided to make the story his, not Fern's. Suddenly, this character's whole world seemed to crack open before my eyes—his dead wife, his waylaid ambitions, his country home,his sons—and I found myself with an ungainly narrative of 40 pages plus. I actually had the nerve to submit it to a couple of magazines and received a brief but kind rejection from the Atlantic the gist of which was "Sorry, though we'd love to see these characters inhabit a novel." Once again, into a drawer it went.
Somehow, though, what was now called "Collies" refused to be abandoned, and a couple years later, two things happened: First, I was intrigued by a fiction competition that included a category for "best novella" and decided to amplify the story yet further. Second, having by now published a couple of stories in modest venues, I'd been contacted by two agents who wondered if I had a novel. Somewhat stubbornly, I was writing only stories—you couldn't really call them "short," since they were lengthy and complex, bursting at the seams like pregnant women refusing to buy maternity clothes—and when I wrote to a fellow writer how unfair it felt that these agents wouldn't consider story collections, he wrote back something like "Stop complaining, get off your duff, and just write a novel. If you want to, you can." I was momentarily hurt, but I knew he was right. Sometimes I wonder if I would ever have written Three Junes without that kick in the pants.
Q: One of your characters states, “Everyone with a mouth and a memory has stories” (p. 39). But not everyone can write.… Were there stories in your own life, from your own memory, that inspired this book?
A:
It is something of a constant surprise to me that Three Junes is almost wholly invented rather than autobiographical that is, in its plot lines since much of the short fiction I've written is based on events in my life or things I imagine about people I’ve met. It does draw extensively, however, on my general experience. Like Fern, I live in the West Village, and I spent a year in Paris on a grant to pursue my work as a painter, but I have never been widowed, the father of my children is nothing like Stavros, and I have certainly never been in a social situation like that weekend Fern spends on Long Island. Likewise, Scotland is a vivid, significant place to me, although I have visited the country only briefly, a few times in the ‘70s and ‘80s. My mother is quite proud of her Scottish roots and, through her genealogical research, made contact with relations there; I was sent over at age 17 as a sort of ambassador, and our families have stayed in touch ever since. While the McLeods are in no way based on my overseas cousins, I think that making Paul a Scotsman was an unconscious expression of my respect for family connections and traditions. Nothing in life fascinates or moves me more than families; no dramas are more compelling to me than the domestic.

The weaving of animals throughout the narrative is also a reflection of my experience, since I was brought up around dogs, horses, cats, and itinerant wildlife. Nor did I escape the influence of animals by moving to New York City; I ended up writing a magazine column on pets (my first published writing), and more than 10 years ago I volunteered for an organization that helps people with AIDS take care of their animals (often their closest companions). My job was to make “foster care” arrangements for dogs, so that if one of our clients had to go into the hospital without notice, someone would be ready and willing to take in his dog until he was discharged (or until, if he died, we were able to find someone to adopt it). Something that happened to me while doing that work stands like a shadow behind the seminal event at the core of the novel: the gift of a parrot to Fenno McLeod. When I went to interview one man about his dog, he told me he also had a parakeet but had just been told by his doctor that he had to give it up because of risks to his health. At the time, my sister was a vet up in Boston with a special interest in birds, and she found the parakeet a new home. When I went to pick the bird up from the owner, he looked significantly weaker than he had just two weeks before. He was in his pajamas, drinking tea from a delicate gilt-edged cup and saucer. As he sat there, looking so unbearably frail, drinking from that elegant cup, I had a heartbreaking glimpse of the life that was slipping away from him. While AIDS has spread horrifically on a worldwide basis, here in New York those years—the late '80s and early '90s—were the worst, the most hopeless, and I have never forgotten the contact I had, brief though it often was, with so many men who were fighting off death and in most cases losing.
Q: Anna explains to Fern, “When it comes to life, we spin our own yarn, and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be” (p. 298). Do you think you always intended to be a writer?
A:
Yes and no. If you were to look in the book my mother kept about my childhood, you would see that I had yet to start school when I declared my intention to grow up and become “an author or an artist.” I was crazy for books—not surprising, since my father was working on his dissertation in pre-Columbian archaeology. Some of my first and sharpest memories are of the look and feel of the arcane, oddly illustrated volumes that filled the shelves in his study. But I also loved to make pictures, and through my school years I remained blithely faithful to both passions.
In high school, I wrote stories, poems, papers, journals, all with intense pleasure—but strangely, I think I began to take my writing ability for granted, perhaps because there were so many other flourishing student writers (many of whom are also professional writers today). When I went to college, I found myself more stimulated by my visual arts courses than my courses that involved writing. Meanwhile, I'm a little ashamed to say, I felt challenged by the macho, almost confrontational teaching style that seemed to have prevailed in that department from the days before coeducation. I thrived in this men-from-the-boys atmosphere, and in my final year, I was a scholar of the house in art: I had a private studio and worked only on my painting, rather than taking courses. The following year, I was awarded a fellowship to spend a year working on my own in Europe. Except for letters, writing was no longer a part of my life—and it took several years for me to miss it.
In my mid-twenties, like so many other fledgling artists, I moved to New York. For several years I lived alone (with a pet rabbit) and led a pretty austere life, working as a copy editor by day and painting by night. I was in a number of group shows but did not care much for the art “scene,” which was highly theatrical; how you looked and the society you kept seemed as important as the work you did. I read voraciously, as I always have, but my reading began to leave me with a kind of thirst. I realized that I was yearning to compose with words as much as with paint. Absurdly, I began to “sneak” time away from my artwork to write stories (I had not written fiction since high school). The problem was, I knew that having to make a living did not allow me the time to pursue both painting and fiction in a serious way. I decided to give myself over to writing for a while, and though it was a struggle, it felt like coming home. In the years since, I have painted off and on, but what I came to realize is that while I do have visual gifts—which, not incidentally, serve me well as a writer—I am at heart a verbal person, someone whose favorite toys are words. For me, making art is like speaking a foreign language fluently, but writing, language itself, is my native tongue, the one I know without even knowing how.
Q:
Three Junes, teeming with its relationships and interconnected lives, resembles a wonderfully dense nineteenth-century novel in a way, despite its very modern characters and setting. Do you agree?
A: I am anything but a minimalist, and I don't say this proudly, because if my work—visual as well as verbal—has one prominent weakness, it's a tendency toward clutter. (I also have a tendency to talk too much and, I'm told by the one adult who lives with me, to fill a room with too many objects and too much pattern.) When it works, however—when it's disciplined—the clutter can yield a magnificent richness, and that's what I aspire to. If this makes me a Victorian of sorts, so be it.
I wouldn't flatter Three Junes by comparing it with anything by Hardy or Eliot or Hawthorne, but they are all personal gods, so clearly I have such ambitions. In the years after college, when I had ample time to read whatever I wanted, I undertook to fill some of my literary gaps by going on reading binges of certain authors: E.M. Forster, Jane Austen, and George Eliot among them. One book I read then that impressed me above and beyond most of what I'd ever read—and it may have been partially responsible for my starting to write fiction—was Daniel Deronda. While I understand the criticism of its flaws, I was astonished by its characters and structure (not to mention its exquisite, masterly prose). Just the idea that you do not meet one of the two protagonists for over a hundred pages seemed revolutionary, and though I didn't write Three Junes till many years later, I know that its ultimate structure was in some ways influenced by that impression. I'm not sure I could have risked what I did with Fenno's character—making him the center of the novel yet keeping him largely offstage for most of the beginning and much of the end—without that example.

Q: Why did you divide the book into three parts with only the second as a first-person narrative? Why did you choose Fenno to set apart? In addition, why does Fenno occasionally address the reader, "Feeling left out, you will have noticed, is second nature to me" (p. 125)?
A:
I mentioned earlier how essential character is to me in the creation of story; well, Fenno is a character who basically hijacked my soul as a writer. He's the one who chose me. Working on Three Junes, I had an experience I'd never had before. In the past, my characters were largely composed in a deliberate manner—under my thumb, you might say—although they often seemed to make spontaneous choices that would surprise me. But Fenno (also Mal, and to some extent Paul) seemed to spring up from my psyche fully formed, like the goddess Athena from her father's head. Writing in Fenno's voice often felt like conversing with a stowaway, continuing the journey and letting go of anxieties about where in the world he came from.
One of the timeworn dictums laid down for first novelists is "Whatever you do, steer clear of the first person!" "Collies" had always felt completely natural in the third person, even though it was limited to Paul's point of view, but when I started the second part of the novel, Fenno's story, I couldn't help hearing it in his own voice—and I was petrified. I knew I was embarking on the longest portion of the book and I thought, I can't do this! Change time period, locale, point of view, and voice? Surely a big mistake. So I did try to work on the story in third person, and I lasted only a few pages. It felt like trying to bend steel pipe.
While writing "Boys," the third part, it hit me that what I was writing, structurally, was a triptych—that is, a strong central image flanked by two narrower, more modest images. I thought of the medieval Netherlandish altarpieces I love so much: Sometimes the central panel—be it a picture of the annunciation, the crucificion, or a martyrdom—is flanked by panels depicting portraits of the altarpiece donors (often husband and wife, male and female). While the central image is frontal, the donors are often shown in profile. And suddenly I had this very clear picture of Three Junes. Here was Fenno's large, rich story at the center, told directly to the reader, with Paul and Fern portrayed in intimate detail to left and right but seen from the side and that's what third person is: a kind of narrative profile view. From then on, Fern's story flowed easily in the third person, mirroring Paul's.
Q: Places figure crucially in the novel—for instance, a Greek island, a Scottish village, Greenwich Village, and a Long Island town. Are these places significant?
A:
Certainly, all these places are places to which I've traveled (Paros and Dumfries, for example) or know intimately, as I do the Greenwich Village, my neighborhood for the past ten years. But beyond that, virtually all the locales of Three Junes, even Fern's hometown, which figures only fleetingly, share an ideal quality. They are places popular with tourists or people escaping their everyday life. I made that choice intentionally, though it entailed certain risks, the first, quite simply, that places of such celebrity may upstage characters and events; the second, that they will make the story seem superficial or glib, like the escapist fiction you buy at the airport to distract yourself from the boredom and anxiety of flying. What I wanted, however, was to make place underscore the deep, nearly insatiable longing felt by the three major characters. Almost all these places are, in real life, places where we hope to receive some kind of sublime, intangible gift, be it beauty or peace or romance, and we often (though not always) come away unsatisfied. Greece, for instance—as the characters themselves acknowledge—is a place utterly steeped in the past. We go there as tourists to wander through ruins and marvel at the eerieness of time and mortality; perhaps we want the Oracle to make sense of our human lives. When he goes to Greece, Paul is torn between wanting to remain in his perfectly ordered past and to somehow get free of its grasp. He does receive a gift, but it's not the one he expected. Scotland, as I mentioned before, brings to mind tradition and family loyalty (think of the clans and the tartans), but by the same token it is a place where acts of great barbarity and betrayal took place, where the land has been as tough and unyielding as it is beautiful. That, of course, is the duplicitous landscape of family itself: love and betrayal, war and peace. Paris, of course, represents true, everlasting love, while Amagansett is a place where we imagine people living perfect lives in perfect privacy…. And then there's June, the perfect month: the month of blossoming, of weddings and conceptions, of—since our childhood—being freed from obligations.
Q: What is next for Julia Glass?
A:
Before I was properly scolded into writing a novel, I was working exclusively on a series of stories about the lives of two very different sisters and their relationship as adults; I assumed that if I was lucky enough to publish a book, this would be it. I saw myself as concentrating on a specific though intense aspect of family—siblingship—and working my way up to writing a larger something (I hardly dared think “novel”) with a broader view of family. Well, now I’ve sort of done it backwards. But of course, there are endless variations on the theme, and I have continued to work on those stories. A few of them have won prizes and been published. I’ve also recently started a new novel about marriage, fidelity, and the drive to make other people happy. It’s called A Piece of Cake, and the main character is a pastry chef, a woman named Greenie Duquette. Unlike most protagonists I’ve created before, Greenie is happy—happy not just in her work but by nature. And she is a mother, also a new kind of heroine for me—motherhood being a relatively new experience in my life. My five-year-old was born not long before I conceived Three Junes, my one-year-old the week before my agent sold it.
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Reading Group Guide

Our Book Club Recommendation
Julia Glass's National Book Award-winning novel is fundamentally a story of family, and of the way that the bonds of love can also become barriers between individuals longing to connect. But Three Junes also spans the final decade of the 20th century, and woven into the story of the Scots-American McLeods is a penetrating look at the circumstances of contemporary life. Dealing with issues ranging from the AIDS crisis to the impact of modern science on fertility, Glass's novel places its characters in a world whose problems will be familiar ones for reading groups.

The "Three Junes" of the title separate the action of the story into three separate sections, unfolding in three different years. The result is a triptych that - along with some of the issues raised -- may remind readers of Michael Cunningham's 1999 novel The Hours. Three Junes opens in 1989 with the story of Paul McLeod, the Scots father of the family, who has just lost his wife to cancer, and his meeting with Fern, an American painter, when he takes a tour of Mediterranean islands. The second section jumps six years to follow Paul's son Fenno, a gay bookstore owner in New York City, and sketches his perspective on the McLeod family dynamics. Fenno's story incorporates that of his twin brothers David and Dennis and his problematic relationship to their more conventional lives.

The third June, in 1999, is told from the perspective of Fern, as she encounters Fenno through an unrelated connection, and thus weaves together the stories of father and son. There is no single event driving the plot - rather, book clubs will discover a wonderful opportunity for conversations about the subtle accumulations of events out of which the shape of a life emerges.

A central theme in Three Junes is memory and particularly the kind of memory that constitutes mourning. Living "in the moment" is a challenge for the McLeods - a universal issue sure to open many discussions about the how the past can take hold of our present lives. The novel opens with Paul's excursion to Greece after his wife's death - and his realization there that seeing almost any woman who resembles her can trigger an acute sense of her presence. This is movingly echoed in the section of the book in which Fenno describes his early years in New York in the late 1980s. Fenno is haunted both by the ghostlike memory of his mother, as well as the friends lost to the AIDS epidemic. Both men must struggle to find renewed meaning in lives that have changed in ways they could never have suspected. Fern, too, must struggle with the memory of a husband whose death came as a wrenching conclusion to a difficult relationship.

Finally, Glass has penned a story that always returns to questions of love and communication - and particularly the ways the two are not always in harmony. Critics have remarked that much of the novel takes place in island locations, from Scotland, to Greece, to the island of Manhattan. This motif underscores Glass's concern with how emotionally separated even the most loving people can become from one another. And while Fern's meeting with Fenno in a symbolic way bridges the gap between father and son, the words that did not pass between the two hang all the more noticeably in the atmosphere of Three Junes. Reading groups will enjoy following together Glass's exploration of these island-like souls, and looking for the evidence of the messages sometimes sent between them. Bill Tipper

Introduction and Discussion Questions from the Publisher

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
National Book Award Winner

“Enormously accomplished . . . rich, absorbing, and full of life.” —The New Yorker

The introduction, discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group’s reading of Julia Glass’s Three Junes.

1. Julia Glass is also a painter. How do the style, structure, and descriptive passages of Three Junes reflect her artistic sensibility? How do the various segments, stories, and flashbacks work within the chronological text?

2. While traveling in Greece, Marjorie says she cannot stop “collecting worlds. . . . Different views, each representing a new window” [pp. 31–32]. How is the role of the traveler and observer like the role of the author?

3. Place figures crucially in the novel, whether it is a Greek island, a Scottish town, the West Village of New York City, or a Long Island town. What is the importance of each place and its role in the context of the entire novel? What are the symbolic differences between the countryside and the city? Where does Fenno belong?

4. The episodes in the first part, Paul’s vacation in Greece juxtaposed against the tale of his life in Scotland, come together to form a picture of his marriage with Maureen. Why does the author tell his tale in this fashion? Why is this part titled “Collies”?

5. Why does Paul, the steady shepherd of his family and newspaper, go to Greece first on vacation and then to live? Do you think he really wanted to “drop [his memories] like stones, one by one, in the sea” [p.49]?

6. In the beginning, Fern reminds Paul of Maureen. Are the two alike or not? What are their similarities and differences? What does each want from life? How have Fern’s relationships affected her character and choices? Why hasn’t she told Stavros about her pregnancy? What is she afraid of?

7. Why doesn’t Fenno visit his father in Greece? What else has Fenno postponed doing or compromised for the sake of work or being upright? What consumes Fenno? What is the cause of the coolness between Fenno and his brother David? Is it rivalry? Do you think this coolness changes by the novel’s end? Which brother seems more admirable, and why?

8. What does the author accomplish by dividing the book into three parts with only the second as a first-person narrative? Why does she let Fenno tell his own story? What effect does this have on the reader? In addition, why does Fenno occasionally address the reader—for instance, when he says, “feeling left out, you will have noticed, is second nature to me” [p. 125]? Does this make us sympathetic to Fenno?

9. Part Two is titled “Upright.” Why? Is uprightness a positive or negative characteristic? Which characters are upright in the novel? Who is not?

10. What is the appeal of birds for Fenno and Mal? Fascinated by birds as an adolescent, Fenno covers the walls of his bookstore, named Plume, with bird prints. The dishes Mal breaks have birds on them. Felicity—Mal’s and then Fenno’s bird—is a vital character in the novel. Do birds and books have a special connection here?

11. What is the role of the mother in Three Junes? Has motherhood transformed or hindered Maureen? Do you think it will change Fern? How does Lucinda, the übermother, carry out her role? How about Véronique?

12. The novel teems with interconnected relationships. Describe some of them. Paul and Maureen—were they both satisfied in life? In marriage? Mal and Fenno—was their relationship ever fully actualized? Fenno and Tony—what kind of attraction did they share? Was it purely sexual? Tony and Fern—what brought them together? Fern and Stavros—will they stay together? Which is your favorite couple?

13. Tony’s job is “to take the very, very small and make it large. . . . Give stature to the details” [p. 277], which is also what the author does. Is Tony a compelling character in Three Junes? Is he simply a foil to Fenno and Fern? What is his purpose in the novel?

14. How does food—its smells, textures, and tastes—weave its way into all three parts of the novel? Why does the author vividly spell out the menus and recipes for us at all the critical meals? Which dishes are the most memorable?

15. What are the various views of death presented in Three Junes? How does the author view death? How do the characters in the novel accept or come to terms with death?

16. Anna explains to Fern, “When it comes to life, we spin our own yarn, and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be” [p. 286]. Glass ends her novel echoing this quote. Why? What do Anna’s words signify?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 96 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(19)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 96 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    More Like a Long Short Story

    I struggled to finish this book. Though the descriptions of places and things were good, the transitions were jarring when floating from past to present and back again. I never really understood why or how they were connected besides it was a memory to give the backstory. The first story was the best. The second story of the older brother (Fenno) was the longest and I felt the same for him when I started and when it was over - nothing.

    The synopsis said this book was about, "a Scottish family as they confront the joys and longings, fulfillments, and betrayals of love in all its guises." I certainly didn't see a long of joy, longing, or fulfillment in this book. It was mostly depressing and very unsatisfying.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2004

    Heartbreaking and Amazing

    This book is probably in the Top 10 reading experiences of my whole life. This is a deceptively simple book, which could be dismissed by those who claim that 'nothing ever happens' in it. In fact, momentous things happen in THREE JUNES; but they're internal things that happen in the minds of its central characters. Ms. Glass knows her characters the way every novelist should but few probably do -- after reading this book, I feel as though I know them as well (I even like most of them). This book teaches life lessons without preaching or hitting the reader over the head with didacticism; perhaps the reason I'm so over the moon about THREE JUNES is because it taught me things that I desperately needed to learn as I read the book, and taught them to me in a way that I could let the lessons in. This is a beautiful book. Obviously, it's not for everyone -- but if you're already considering it, I would highly recommend it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2005

    Rarely does one find characters so compellingly human

    Not since Madeline McCarthy in The Way the Crow Flies have I fallen so completely in love with a character. I want Fenno McCleod, so beautifully shown and not told by Julia Glass, in my life. I was intrigued though slightly put off by Paul, the patriarch, but Fenno drew me in and taught me lessons I still needed to learn: Family dynamics, the wounded children we still are even when we are grown, and the ultimate realization that, as Fenno says, we don't have to be understood to be loved. I hope Julia Glass has another novel in her because this one is now on my list of favorites.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2004

    Don't underestimate this subtle story

    I was surprised to see such disparity among the reviews posted here. For me, Three Junes is a beautifully written book that meshes form and content. It evoked a feeling of wistulness -- I wanted to know the characters better, learn more of their story. But isn't that what Fenno wants as well? Doesn't he gather his insight from external sources and clues rather than from the characters themselves? Memory and memorial, I treasured this book yet longed for more.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Love it or Hate it

    This is definitely one of those love it or hate it books. I couldn't get past the first 5 chapters. I was hoping it would get better, and that if I just kept reading, I'd get hooked. I was wrong! It seems many people enjoyed this read, but it just wasn't for me. This is one of those rare books that I wasn't able to will myself to finish.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Very Dissappointing

    Took me a while to finish this book because I just couldnt find any real plot. The book came in and out of different peoples lives with no clear purpose. Overall not a horrible book, but definitly did'nt keep me looking forward to picking it up each night.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2004

    HOW DID THIS BOOK GET PUBLISHED?

    THIS WAS 12 HOURS OF MY LIFE I WILL NEVER GET BACK. FROM START TO FINISH I KEPT WAITING FOR A STORY TO START AND IT NEVER DID. MS. GLASS DEVELOPED THE CHARACTERS BUT THE READER, ME, NEVER CARED ABOUT THEM...IT WAS ENDLESS. I LIKE A GOOD STORY NOT A BUNCH OF GOSSIP.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    I give it a four.

    It was very interesting and different from books I have read before. There were changes to the plot, it wasn't predictable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 29, 2014

    Interesting

    Enjoyable read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2014

    To everyine

    Im paul. Im looking for someone to be my bf. Respond in the comments above.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2014

    Great characters in a challenging format that is worth the effort

    You may be confused the first time the author switches the setting or character but after the second or third time you realise she will tie them together and take pleasure in how she uses this technique to bring you closer to the characters

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2014

    Beautiful book

    At unexpected times, the language of the book brought tears to my eyes
    This author has truely created something beautiful. Do not let less than bright reviewers deter you from reafing this bpok.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2014

    This remains one of my favorite books.  It's masterful at weavin

    This remains one of my favorite books.  It's masterful at weaving together strands of a story, complete with flawed characters the reader grows to love.  I absolutely cannot comprehend 1 or 2 star ratings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Jumped arounf too much

    I didn't like the way the author went from the present to the past within a chapter and seemingly at random. There were too many separate stories going on with yet anither introduced towards the end if the book. The ending was not satisfying.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2013

    Very good

    Very good

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Got this book because it was the answer to a Jeopardy question,

    Got this book because it was the answer to a Jeopardy question, and the contestant knew the answer. Hey, if it made it to Jeopardy, it must be good. Not so. I thought most of the characters were weak, and the story fractured. The only relationship I believed was the one between Fenno and Mal.

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    I tried, but could not finish this one

    I could have used a dictionary to look up the meanings of the big words in this book, and there were so many foreign phrases and terms that I felt it was more of a homework assignment than a relaxing read. I read about 1/3 of it and decided not to waste any more of my summer on it, so will donate it back to the thrift store where I bought it in the first place.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 21, 2011

    Boring Read

    Not only was this book too slow, but it was boring and bounced around too much as well. There were also things said in another language that werent defined in english so parts of the main dialogue were hard to follow. Also, it seemed as though the writer was more interested in a vocabulary lesson than a plot.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 26, 2010

    Didn't like it-

    I really didn't like this book. I have read far better books. Don't waste your time on this one. This book is about three older brothers and it follows their lives. I struggled through this story (because sometimes they get better- but this one didn't). I really gave it an effort but it was not catching me at all. I wasn't interested and the book was hard to read. I read to be entertained and have fun, this book was more like a chore than a piece of entertainment. Don't do it!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2009

    Disappointed in The Three Junes

    I think the author writes very well and has fleshed out the characters well. I found Malachy interesting, a bit prickly in personality; the depiction of his illness is strong. I believe him to be the pivotal character in the story, around whom Fenno finds the strength to mature in his relationships. All said, I, unfortunately, was not very interested in the overall story; I could not seem to become engaged.

    I would definitely give another of the author's books a try. She is a good writer.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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