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.
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.
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.
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.
Enormously accomplished….rich, absorbing, and full of life.” -The New Yorker
“A warm, wise debut. . . . Three Junes marks a blessed event for readers of literary fiction everywhere.”–San Francisco Chronicle
“Julia Glass’s talent sends chills up my spine; Three Junes is a marvel.”–Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls
“Three Junes almost threatens to burst with all the life it contains. Glass’s ability to illuminate and deepen the mysteries of her characters’ lives is extraordinary.” – Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
“‘Three Junes’ brilliantly rescues, then refurbishes, the traditional plot-driven novel. . . Glass has written a generous book about family expectations–but also about happiness.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Gorgeous. . .‘Three Junes’ goes after the big issues without a trace of fustiness and gives us a memorable hero.” – Los Angeles Times Book Review
“’Three Junes’ is a novel that bursts with the lives of its characters. They move into our hearts, taking up permanent residence, the newest members of the reader’s family of choice.”–Times-Picayune
“Fiercely realized. . .luxuriant in its emotional comprehension and the idea, or promise, that anything might happen.”–Boston Globe
“Radiant…an intimate literary triptych of lives pulled together and torn apart.”–Chicago Tribune
“Sophisticated . . . Engrossing . . . Catches the surprising twists and turns in family relationships, amid love, loss, hope and regret.”–Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“The sort of sparkling debut that marks a writer as one to watch.” –Daily News
“The fluid, evolving nature of family history is at the heart of this assured first novel.”–Time Out New York
“This first novel treats family ties, erotic longing, small children and prolonged deaths from AIDS and cancer with a subtlety that grows from scrupulous unsentimentality.”–Newsday
“Formidable. . . The traditional novel of social relations is very much alive in Three Junes. Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen, among other exemplars, would surely approve.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Brimming with a marvelous cast of intricate characters set in an assortment of scintillating backdrops, Glass's philosophically introspective novel is highly intelligent and well-written.”–Booklist