Three Junes By: Julia Glass
Paige’s Rating: (2.5) of 5 Stars
Recommended for: Fiction Readers
An astonishing first novel that traces the lives of a Scottish family over a decade as they confront the joys and longings, fulfillments and betrayals of love in all its guises.
I really am unsure what to think about this book, as parts of it were masterfully written and parts of it were confusing and dull at best. I guess I will highlight what I usually do: what works and what doesn’t work in this novel.
What works are the different characters throughout the novel. There is a newly widowed English man, Paul; his newly Americanized and gay son, Fenno; and Fenno’s lover’s newly widowed friend, Fern. The characters in the book are well developed, and the reader feels attracted and interested in their lives as the book progresses in three different parts: Paul in Greece, Fenno in Greenwich Village, and Fern in Long Island.
What doesn’t work, however; are the three separate parts. Greece is told by Paul’s point of view and it focuses on his thoughts about his marriage now that he is a widower. The story is interesting but is then cut off abruptly and I felt as if I was left hanging. The second part of the book begins from Paul’s son Fenno’s point of view about mourning the death of his father in Scotland with his brothers and their wives. While there, he flashes back to living and adjusting to life in New York City, during a time when AIDS was devastating the homosexual community. The majority of the book is this second part, with dual plots in Fenno’s present and Fenno’s flashbacks. This part ends and the third part is told from Fern’s point of view as she flashes back to her miserable marriage and the guilt she feels when she is suddenly a widower, freed from her husband. This last part seems rather disconnected, sloppy, and irrelevant to the rest of the book. The three parts and their flashbacks are enough to make the reader feel disorganized and it gives what could be a strong novel a very loose feeling.
The language used was also something I didn’t enjoy, as I could tell that many of the phrases and words used were of British or Scottish slang. The written language was also a bit devoid of feeling, as the author focused so much on characters and plot, but never really weaved them together to effectively point out the theme of the book: death and moving on.
This is one of those classic “plane” books: you would never read this in your freetime, but if it were the only thing you had while traveling, you would. If you are in the mood to contemplate life and death and its complexities, then this book is for you. But if you are not, then I would suggest skipping these Junes entirely.