Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
I so much enjoyed listening to the "Three Junes". The narrator was excellent and really added to the pleasure of the text. He used multiple voices, accents and intonations that helped to give each character distinct identity and personality in the way that maintained a good deal of interest in a book containing a significant amount of dialogue.
The story itself is a fascinating one with multiple levels and complexities that made it suspenseful even without much of a plot--it's more of a character and issue study and a rumination on fate. Yet I continually looked forward to getting into the car to hear more. The Three 'Junes' are three separate views of the same family/experiences/perspectives narrated by three different individuals whose lives and fates are interwoven at three different instances in time, always in June.
I highly recommend this book whose literary quality is rare among books published today for its discussion of major moral issues in a way that suggests the original purpose of the novel as it developed to its height in the 19th century. It provides multiple ways of seeing the same issue among parents and children, siblings and friends, and pushes one to step into the shoes of another on 'big issues' in such a way as to sympathize with even the most disagreeable character. Unlike much modern literature stuck at being a text about a text, the book addresses the moral issues of our time as they are lived by normal people who nonetheless live the 'examined' life.
Some of the reviews here made me hesitate, but I thought I'd give the book a try. I am so glad I did. I am now on my second listen, just to savor it again.
Ms. Glass has written some of the most original and apt metaphors that get at the true meaning of an experience. For example, she describes a character's (Fenno's) feeling when he finally discovers that he has been making a long-term mistake in having a relationship with someone (Tony): she describes him as having been drinking water for so long only to learn, late, that it was really just saltwater. Another metaphor describes the "epileptic" flashes of TV light seen from outside a window. Those are metaphors that make me say "yes, yes! that's true!"
The people who won't like this book are probably 2 types: a) they just don't normally relate to gay men, and don't want to (one gay man's complicated friend/family/love life is the central "middle" story here); and b) they don't want to have to do the mental work of paying attention to which time period the story currently is situated in. It is a bit hard at times, but I didn't find it too complicated; there are always enough clues. The book works better this way, too: by taking you into the future just a bit, you can pre-appreciate the impact of the past even before you have fully experienced the past.
Let me just say, too, that this may be the first "gay men in NY during the AIDS crisis" story that I have "read" in which I truly, truly cared for the characters and felt myself moved to tears.
I tried three different times to listen to this book, the last time listening to over three hours
of very confusing text. It skips from past to present so quickly that you're not sure where
you are and top that off with the narrator's brogue that is so heavy at times that you can't
understand what he is even saying.
I do not recommend at all.
I'd have a hard time recommending this as an audio book. I believe it would be a better read than listen. In my case, while driving, I found the audio book a bit too difficult to listen to, found myself rewinding too often to re-listen to many things that I couldn't catch the first time, either due to the Scottish accent of the narrator, the fact the book jumps back and forth between scenes, or the elaborate language. It's funny, but after completing the whole book, I went back and re-listed to the first 2 hours, and it was as if I had never heard it before. Nonetheless, the second time around, it all made much more sense, however I still believe it is an awkward beginning.
As a whole, this book is about the McLeod family, and primarily about Fenno. Then, about 3/4 of the way through, the storyline just drops off and goes on to discuss Fern. I cannot understand how this did not get edited out. I did not care for this character at this point, and kept asking myself, "but what about Fenno?" This event made the book entirely unbalanced. Sure, Fenno's and Fern's lives intersect, but did Fern's entire history add value to understanding their relationship? - I do not think so. The publisher's summary that Fern "must make peace with her past to embrace her future" is simply putting varnish on the weak part of the book. In my opinion, it was simply a story that the writer could simply not throw out, and the overall story suffers for it.
Overall, the book contains volumes of beautifully written prose. Indeed, Julia Glass does paint wonderful pictures of "love in its limitless forms." Regarding the actual audio format, the narrator is both a blessing and barrier, his different accents and inflections help the listener distinguish between characters and often adds color and charm, but at the same time the Scottish accent can be difficult to understand. Additionally, the book would have greatly benefited from a distinct pause when jumping from one scene to another.
As many others have mentioned, I struggled with this story. When reading a book, it is easy to tell when sections begin and end if only by paragraph breaks. The narrator or editing job did not help with this.
The narrator's Scottish burr was wonderful to listen to and great for the Scottish characters. It did suffer for characters on the other "side of the pond."
The first section led very nicely and logically to the second section. Although interesting, the second section was too long, went down too many paths, and had little connection to the third. I was so looking forward to how all three would be brought together ...and the book ended!! I couldn't believe it!!
The presentation of the gay lifestyle was interesting and enlightening. I am not an expert, but some of the relationships seemed rather far fetched, or on the other extreme, stereotypical.
In essence, if I did not know better, I would have thought that this book was still the story plot ideas rather than the finished product. So many unfinished paths: Marjorie leaving the funeral could have gone somewhere, the twins almost discovering their mother's affair could have gone somewhere, yet what value was there in Fern's connection between Paul and Feno ...when that also was just dropped as it got interesting.
I would have sent this one back for a lot of re-writing.
"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." --Lemony Snicket
Julia Glass’ National Book Award winner holds the distinction of being my very first audiobook. And thank goodness for that – I don’t know if I’d be as hooked on listening if I hadn’t been so charmed by John Keating’s lilting performance of this moving family saga (featuring the loveable Fenno who fulfills my own dream of running a bookstore).
I very much enjoyed this book. The story was nothing monumental - no murders, no crimes, no intrigue - yet the characters were drawn with such care and love I got pulled into their lives and wanted to know what was going to happen to them next. I really liked the narrator who gave real life to each character - no cheating with funny accents or tricks of the voice. He treated each character as if he or she were real and important. Just a good, small book by a very talented writer.
I have trudged through this entire volume spending much of the time trying to figure out if I was in the present or the past. There was often no pause at all when changing from time to time and I often found myself hitting the rewind button.
All of the narrator's 'American' voices sounded the same which made this further difficult to understand - especially when a character who had died had his voice resurrected in a new character. The worst part is that the story wasn't worth the time I spent trying to understand what was happening and to whom. Wish I had that credit back.
I'm a sucker for an attractive accent, and the reader of "Three Junes" did his Scottish brogue very, very well. The book itself is responsible for the missing star -- its three-part structure detracted. The father's and eldest son's sections (I and II) were enough; the third section, about how the eldest son eventually met the young woman his father had been attracted to years before after his mother's death, didn't add anything for me. Still, I found I was wrapped up in the characters and their lives. A worthwhile book.
I enjoyed this work very much, and agree with the editor's comments about the richness and depth of the multigenerational characters and vivid settings (Greece, Scotland, New York and New England - not a bad travelogue!). The only issue I had was the abruptness with which new passages were begun. The narrator seems to have been hurried a bit, and since there are so many threads and characters to the story, it would have helped if he had definite "stops" between passages. (Maybe a bell, or some subtle tone.) This was particularly important because there is continual switching between the "three Junes" (three summer periods separated by many years). I was a little amused at the "American" dialects used by the narrator, but this is inevitable and even adds a bit to the interest in listening to the story (it helps that I found the narrator's Scottish burr appealing). I thought the story itself was richly drawn, multi-textured, and that several of the characters were very appealing - particularly Paul and his oldest son, Fenno (I might have favored the wistful ones, I think!). This is the second Audible selection I've tried; the first, "Devil in the White City," was wonderful, as well. I can recommend both if you're down with a protracted bout of the flu and tired of both reading and tv - something I hadn't thought of when I joined to make my long commute more bearable!