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Three Junes [Paperback]

Julia Glass
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 22 2003
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.

In June of 1989 Paul McLeod, a newspaper publisher and recent widower, travels to Greece, where he falls for a young American artist and reflects on the complicated truth about his marriage. . ..Six years later, again in June, Paul’s death draws his three grown sons and their families back to their ancestral home. Fenno, the eldest, a wry, introspective gay man, narrates the events of this unforeseen reunion. Far from his straitlaced expatriate life as a bookseller in Greenwich Village, Fenno is stunned by a series of revelations that threaten his carefully crafted defenses. . .. Four years farther on, in yet another June, a chance meeting on the Long Island shore brings Fenno together with Fern Olitsky, the artist who once captivated his father. Now pregnant, Fern must weigh her guilt about the past against her wishes for the future and decide what family means to her. In prose rich with compassion and wit, Three Junes paints a haunting portrait of love’s redemptive powers.

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From 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read May 17 2004
Format:Paperback
Three Junes is a lovely read, one that begins strongly and only gets better. The story concerns a Scottish family and begins in June 1989. Paul McLeod, recently widowed, takes a tour to Greece, contemplating his future, his past, his family. Jump ahead six years and we are in Scotland, where Paul's three sons are preparing for his funeral. Jump again four years, to Eastern Long Island, a weekend get together with two of Paul's sons and Fern, a woman Paul met on his trip to Greece. It is hard to do justice to this novel in a few pithy sentences. The writing is beautiful and Glass gives us characters we can care about deeply. Their lives are complicated, but without any melodrama or pyrotechnics. Her writing is simply beautiful and I believe gets stronger as the novel progresses. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful novel and highly recommend it along with two other books, "He Never Called Again", and "The Loser's Club."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting family life story April 18 2005
Format:Paperback
Like many of the books I read, this book was the selection of a book club I belong to, and I quite liked it. Just before the meeting to discuss the book, I checked out the Amazon.com reviews, and then was surprised to discover that the Amazon reviewers accurately reflected the diverse opinions of the ten at the meeting: although a small majority liked the book, the rest did not; two couldn't finish it and two couldn't even get into it. Amazon reviews, when there is a good number of them, are obviously a good guide.

This is a story of family life, for better or for worse, told in three stories, as seen through the eyes of the father, then his three sons, and then a friend of both the father and the sons. The father lives in Scotland, with two of the sons, but his story takes place in Greece, while he is on vacation there. One of the sons lives in New York, and flies back and forth to Scotland. The friend's story takes place in both Greece and New York. The result is a quite complex, interwoven family story that is easy to understand but hard to describe. The writing is sensitive; for example, the description of the death in New York of a friend of one of the sons, due to AIDS, is sympathetically done. Overall, I found the family's story to be very interesting and well written, but not a story I would recommend for everybody.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Something to Try May 25 2005
Format:Paperback
Everyone has different tastes as readers. I personally feel "THE THREE JUNES" is excellent but I can see where it is not everyone's taste. What is? "THE THREE JUNES" is not a dare to be different book like "MIDDLESEX" or "MY FRACTURED LIFE" nor does it have the universally appealing spiritual elements of "THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES" or "THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN." Those are different types of books, different "tastes." I like all of them, "THE THREE JUNES" among them. Just like at a restaurant, you don't know if you like something unless you try it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, great book April 19 2005
Format:Paperback
THREE JUNES is a nuanced, layered book. After I finished it, I re-read the first section and realized how beautifully the pieces of the book fit together. Glass is too sophisticated, too knowing of the realities of life, to come up with pat endings or make everything fit together too neatly. However, even small characters that are introduced in the first section, Fern's friend Anna for instance, are re-introduced in the later sections with appropriate follow-ups. She shows how different the world can be viewed from various perspectives. For example, in the first section, she details a character, Marjorie, a schoolteacher from Devon, who gets on the nerves of Paul, the main character. Later, Marjorie shows up at Paul's funeral and they seem to have remained in touch through the years. The reader assumes: she kept pushing herself into his life. Paul's son Fenno has a different take on Marjorie-and he wonders-were they good friends. NO , no you want to cry-she got on his nerves-but Fenno never gets to realize his father's take on herth-nor would most people in real life, after someone has died. Must also recommend another great book that a friend recommended-------------THE CHILDREN'S CORNER by McCrae-very unusual with great writing, jaw-dropping scenes, and life itself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars YOU DON'T KNOW UNLESS YOU TRY IT Feb. 4 2005
Format:Paperback
Everyone has different tastes as readers. I personally feel "THE THREE JUNES" is excellent but I can see where it is not everyone's taste. What is? "THE THREE JUNES" is not a dare to be different book like "MIDDLESEX" or "MY FRACTURED LIFE" nor does it have the universally appealing spiritual elements of "THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES" or "THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN." Those are different types of books, different "tastes." I like all of them, "THE THREE JUNES" among them. Just like at a restaurant, you don't know if you like something unless you try it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars for Three Junes Nov. 5 2004
Format:Hardcover
I just finished this book this morning and felt compelled to write a quck review. For some reason, it took me a little bit to "get into" this one but once I did, I could not put it down. It is very well-written and I am sad that it is over. I really enjoyed the characters, especially Fenno and even Fern, and it left me hungry for more...I want to know what happened when Fern told Stavros about the baby...I want to know if she ever realizes that she met Fenno's Dad on her trip to Greece...I want to know about Fenno's relationship with the twins. But despite my longing for more of this story, I am happy to have had the oprtunity to "know" these characters and I can highly reccommend this bookI thought this book was great and how anyone can call it flat is beyond me. This is the first novel I have read that tells about life from a gay man's perspective. Sometimes he seemed to be reluctantly gay but gay none the less. I was sympathetic to siblings that remembered things differently from their childhoods, almost like they lived with different families, as is the case with siblings. This story was so deep and the characters so involved and intertwined it was unbelievable. What a wonderful depth and ability this author showed.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Content
I put off reading the last four pages for a few hours just to hold on to it a bit longer, but when I finished, I was smiling.
Contentedly.
Published on Sept. 10 2005 by Karen Masullo
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU DON'T KNOW UNLESS YOU TRY IT
Everyone has different tastes as readers. I personally feel "THE THREE JUNES" is excellent but I can see where it is not everyone's taste. What is? Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2005 by Adrienne Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Junes is superb
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'... Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2005 by Starkweather,
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
Cleary the best novel to come out in decades, THREE JUNES is a linearly constructed three novella whose centre and emotional core lies clearly in the middle story. Read more
Published on July 28 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Junes
This book was beautifully written, except I felt I was deceived from the beginning. When you read the book from the front cover, back cover, even inside the book with numerous... Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by "cywu73"
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply amazing
This amazing tale is unusual on several levels. First, the form of the book: it reads like three novellas as the book is in three distinct sections, each with its own point of... Read more
Published on June 18 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Enough
But not great. Nothing so wrong with this book except that it just isn't vibrant enough for me. The people are so ho hum. Read more
Published on June 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly beautiful
After finishing Middlesex last month, I was adrift looking for another writer with the same skill as Eugenides at crafting characters who steal our hearts and emotions which... Read more
Published on June 15 2004
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