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Three Junes Hardcover – May 7, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (May 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421440
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,570,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

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.

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Customer Reviews

To each her own, but I found this book boring and annoying.
R. Vidal
I am still surprised that this book won a major prize like the National Book Award.
Manola Sommerfeld
I found the character development to be very good and the story to be interesting.
Sherry Lynnette Osterman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 139 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on October 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Three Junes" is a trilogy of sorts, with its distinct parts set in 1989, 1995, and 1999. Each section could be read on its own (and, in fact, the first, "Collies," won an award for best novella in 1999), but, taken as a whole, they encompass a multifaceted portrait of Fenno McLeod, his family, and his friends.

Told from the third person, "Collies" serves as a prologue and introduces us to the three sons of Paul McLeod, who travels through the Greek islands and reminisces about the poignant family reunion in Scotland effected by his wife's death. The second part, "Upright," takes up most of the book. Fenno is the narrator, skipping back and forth between his father's funeral and his expatriate life in Manhattan, where he befriends the catty and urbane Malachy Burns, manages a bookstore in Greenwich Village, and has a unexpected dalliance with a photographer named Tony. Fenno's reserved relationship with his two brothers mirrors his tense friendship with Mal, who, dying of AIDS, maintains his own dignity and an admirable drollness that challenges both his mother's intrusive (yet occasionally endearing) rectitude and Fenno's "constipatedly humorless" aloofness.

Drastically shifting perspective once again, the final section, "Boys," is a fitting epilogue seen through the eyes of Fern, whose getaway with Tony in the Hamptons is unexpectedly augmented with a visit by Fenno and one of his brothers.

The change in perspective, dramatis personae, and even tone between each section is certainly peculiar and seems to puzzle some readers; the character of Fern especially resembles a late arrival crashing a family gathering that's almost over.
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184 of 203 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Fletcher VINE VOICE on July 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book isn't my standard cup of tea, but the reviews were so universally good, I decided to give it a try. It was wonderfully well worth the time. This is not a book you can idly pick up and scan for a while, then return to it as time allows. It is a well-told family story with personal intrigues and family secrets, none of which are so outlandish that we don't have a few of them littering our own closets. Because she needs for us to know the Scottish McLeod family well in order to propel the story along, Julia Glass takes a lot of time and pages to get us acquainted. For the reader who requires action to move a story along, this is a bit of a test, because it is the unfolding of the characters themselves that moves the story along, beautifully, heartbreakingly. It is easy to become impatient with Fenno, our main character and mini-hero, because he seems so paralyzed by his life, but read on and you will come to appreciate the many fine qualities of his character and those of his well-meaning family. I felt very satisfied upon finishing this - and ready for a trip to Greece (subplot)!
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Oak on July 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this book almost all in one sitting and it's not an easy read. I was very impressed by the quality of the writing and I didn't want to put the book down. I was particularly impressed by Glass's ability to write convincingly from a male point of view. But I found the last third of the book the least interesting, and the second section too long. I think Glass has some fascinating characters here--but the McLeod characters deserved more room. I also thought the flashbacks worked against the power of the story and I think the story would have worked better if told chonologically. I also thought the character of Mal became a gay stereotype and I cringed when he told Fenno to "live" like a character out of Auntie Mame. Mal's mother also borders on a stereotype. I'm sorry to be this critical--there is much I admired in this book, particularly the sections in Scotland, and Fenno's relationship with his family. There just should have been some more editing. For instance, the character of Veronique who we're told over and over again is unlikeable has too much weight in this book. And although I liked Fern and Fenno meeting, I found Fern's story pretty boring. I'd still recommend this book, though, and as I said, I read the book almost entirely in one sitting, which means it grabbed me despite its flaws.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Paul Benjamin on May 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Three Junes" is elegantly written and highly entertaining, though its compelling plot is difficult to describe succinctly. It's partly a family saga (the story of three generations of the Scottish McLeods), but it's also an elegiac story of New Yorkers in the era of AIDS and a hopeful meditation on impending motherhood by a 30-something single widow. The book is both heartbreaking and hopeful; it's about the fragility of life, whether it is extinguished in a single act of terrorist madness or by the modern plague of AIDS or cancer. "Three Junes" is filled with articulate, civilized characters--witty, intelligent sophisticates--who must face the inevitabilities of life--birth, love, and, of course, death. (Those elemental themes, I think, give the novel a remarkable urgency, helped along with a great deal of narrative skill; it's a literary page-turner.) These people face life, for the most part, with grace and dignity and decency; virtually all of them are compelling, vividly sketched and fully realized. And the scenes that propel the reader forward are incredibly well delineated, from an emotionally draining funeral to an impromptu dinner party in Amagansett�the narrative momentum is intense. An interesting subtheme concerns the world of pets--collies and a spectacular parrot--and how their life cycles mirror (and sometimes transcend) those of their human counterparts. The writing is lyrical, painterly and often poetic, but never narcissistically so. This novel is a real accomplishment--difficult to fathom that it's a first novel--and should be very engaging to anyone interested in contemporary fiction.
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