National Book Award, Fiction, 2002A Good Morning America "Read This" selection, 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 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.
Three Junes is available in print from Pantheon Books.
Producers: Laura Wilson/ Dan Zitt
Directed by Paula Parker
Jacket photographs: Johner/Photonica: (sky) Jennifer Rocholl
Jacket design by Archie Ferguson
©2002 by Julia Glass
(P)2002 by Random House Audio
"Julia Glass' talent just sends chills up my spine; her novel is a marvel." (Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls)
"Has the rich pleasures of a 19th-century novel and the rush of New York life of the last ten years. I'm amazed it's a first novel - it is a mature, captivating work of fiction." (John Casey, author of The Half-life of Happiness)
"Almost threatens to burst with all the life it contains...extraordinary." (Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours)
Delightfully written, true to life & completely believable characters make this the best "read" I've had in a long time. The narration with the brogue really completes it. My only complaint is that the book goes from past to present & back again very frequently & can be hard to follow (especially at first, till you figure out what's going on). It doubtlessly would have been easier to follow on paper.
Honestly, this has been my best find here, I highly recommend it!
"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'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.
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!
This is my first review after literally dozens and dozens of listens. I've been tempted to write reviews before - so, this doesn't mean this is the best I've listened to. But - it was a great listen. I didn't want to reach the end - I grew that much interested in these people's lives. If you're interested in a narrative about relationships between spouses, lovers, siblings, pet owners and pets, you will enjoy this book, The narration was excellent.
This book is teeming with its relationships and interconnected lives. The three interrelating, but separate stories are all wonderfully written. Some books lend themselves better to audio than others and this is defently one of them. I found myself relistening a few times and picking up more from the book each time.
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 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.
This novel is divided in to three shorter stories, all related. The first part is good (3 out of 5), but I thoroughly enjoyed the longer middle story. The author uses time to her advantage and bounces back and forth between the past and present with an appealing result. The middle I give 4.5 out of 5. The last part is short, but pleasant (again, 3 out of 5). Overall, very enjoyable at 4 out of 5
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.
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