Book Review: Three Junes by Julia Glass


Summary from Bookbrowse:

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 learn to 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.


My Rating:


Ambivalence is the word I’d use to describe what I felt after reading this book. I simply didn’t know how to explain the neutrality that I felt.

It’s not that the writing was bad or the story was off. Because it is well-written and  the story was well-weaved. The author was very good in creating a clear picture of what was happening. She’s also adept at describing each character that somehow I felt I’ve known them all my life. But, in the end, I didn’t really see a clear message. My thought bubble a day after reading the book was “What’s the point again?” And this question keeps popping up not because I forgot what the message was. I simply couldn’t identify her original intended message.

Don’t get me wrong though. It’s not that I didn’t like it. After all I gave it three hearts which means I liked it. I do recommend that you think twice before reading it. I guess with this book, a reader would have different lessons and insights to take home. And maybe , whatever that take home lesson is, would depend on how much you relate to the story or the character/s. Unfortunately, for me, there’s little to none.

If this is the case, why did I give it three hearts, you ask. Anyone who reads it would pick up mini-messages here and there. Especially, if you are the type who is obsessed with and constantly uses marginalia.


Thought-out Marginalia : (to be added soon)


About kikayreader

I'm a designer by profession. Lately, a domestic lifestyle is something I find appealing... and somewhat ideal. Thus, I'm seriously considering changing to a profession that would allow me to stay home more often. By that I mean most days of the week, and most hours of the day. I've narrowed down my options to two; being an artist or a writer. But then again, there's no one stopping me to do both. Allow me to share this adventure to my "unexplored" and whatever comes out of it. Oh... and wishing me luck is more than welcome.

One response »

  1. I am just reading Three Junes now and will have to lead discussion on it at my book club in early March. I’m so glad I read this blog en route–ambivalent is exactly right word. The club had originally selected Glass’s I see You Everywhere but head of the club got so many complaints from those reading it — I CAN’T READ THIS THING I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THESE SISTERS ETCETERA — that she changed to Three Junes. I was one who recognized great writing style but had hard time sticking to reading I see you Everywhere but didn’t complain–didn’t think it POSSIBLE to just change the book!

    I’m finding I like Three Junes far better. In fact I would say first part about the father in Greece I totally enjoyed with my usual “can’t put this down fervor.” I liked that father–disliked the dog-raising mother. Now I’m at page 190 and AGAIN having a hard time sticking with it.

    Thing is there are wonderful paragraphs–writing is great. But I get TIRED of the characters! Got tired of those two sisters in the other book almost from page 10 on.

    I’m one of those who has to CARE what happens to the characters. What is it that displease me? Trying to figure that out so I can lead discussion.

    I just may go back, start over and take notes on the insights and such in the writing that I enjoy.

    One I found alm ost humorous–bit about Callas dumped by Onassis for the more glamourous and socially prominent Jackie. I have NEVER been a fan of Jackie because if you think about her life, she only ever married for money. What’s so classy about THAT? And it was mean of her. Callas/Onassis were the great loves of one another’s life. But Onassis couldn’t overcome his ambition for social ujpward mobility and so made a deal wiuth Jackaie — money in exchange for privilege of entering rarified Kennedy world. I never understood the press ignoring the sheer crassness of what Jackie did to get all that money.

    Oh well — maybe I’ll bring that up if book discussion gets boring.

    I may just be too old (91) to sustain interest in all the details. But you know who came to mind while reading Glass? P.D. James. I love her mysteries because she develops each character so meticulously and evocatively. She’d NEVER tiresome! You don’t get that “Oh for god’s sake, quit already” feeling I get from Glass’s development of characters despite her writing skills.

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