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Three Junes (2002)

by Julia Glass

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,304952,257 (3.6)112
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.… (more)
  1. 01
    Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Family interactions between fathers, mothers, and siblings -- living and dead, present and past -- are the focus of these sharply observed tales. Character-driven and lyrical, they share a thoughtful, bittersweet tone and a complex style perfect for their mature themes.… (more)
  2. 01
    Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (eveninglightwriter)
    eveninglightwriter: While Ondaatje is definitly more poetic in his descriptions, Julia Glass is just as enjoyable. I really felt myself swept away by both books. There seems to be a strong sense of place and time that both writers portray beautifully.
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English (93)  Italian (1)  All languages (94)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
You start Three Junes by following widower Paul McLeod on a guided tour of Greece where he meets a woman who will change the course of his life. Six years later Paul's passing brings his sons, Fenno, and twins, Dennis and David, to Scotland for his funeral. Fenno, a normally reserved New York West Village gay man, faces a family he barely knows while remembering a father he has always wanted to know better. Both of his brothers are married and living very different lives. The mourners who approach Fenno present difficult choices. For a good chunk of the book Fenno's story is told in first person, bouncing back and forth in time as we follow his complicated relationships with cerebral friend, Mal, dying of AIDS and sexy photographer, Tony, who remains uncommitted despite near daily sexual encounters.
Speaking of Tony, he appears in the last chunk of the book as Fern's lover. This relationship circles the story back to Paul, as Fern was Paul's chance encounter in Greece. Artfully written, Glass plays with chronology and people's emotions. You want unreachable resolutions and conversations that don't or won't happen. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Nov 21, 2021 |
In June of 1989 Paul McLeod, head of a Scottish family, travels to Greece, where he connects with a young American artist and reflects on the complications of marriage while mourning the recent death of his wife.

In June of 1996 Paul’s death draws his three grown sons and their families back to their ancestral home. Fenno, the eldest, a wry, introspective gay man is stunned by a series of revelations that threaten his carefully protected view of the world. .

And finally, in June of 1999, a chance meeting brings Fenno together with Fern, the artist who once captivated his father on his Greek trip so many years ago. The circle is completed.

I found the story well written, the characters engaging, and the book rich with insight about love and parenting and how people connect and fail to connect over the years.

There is a lot about mothers in this.
There is a lot about dying in this.
There is a lot about painting in this.
There is a lot about food in this.
There is a lot about birds in this.

My Book Club found the plot "contrived", and the "chance meetings" and many coincidences hard to swallow. Not me.

It's a slow moving book with a LOT of characters to keep track of. I found it worth the effort.

Reading the LT reviews of the book it's clearly a "Loved it or Hated it" book. I loved it. ( )
  magicians_nephew | Nov 5, 2021 |
I was really surprised to find out how many of our reading group members didn't particularly like this book. The common word was 'contrived', but then, what fiction isn't in some way? I very much liked the writing, which drew me in intensely, especially in the large center section.

The novel is set in three sections, in three generations of a Scottish family and the people they encounter, parents and children.

The first section of the book relates the marriage Paul and Maureen, a couple from markedly different classes and personalities. Paul remembers most of this while on a tour of Greece after his wife's death. Maureen is strong-willed and clear in what she wants right from the beginning, while he accepts the easier route into his father's newspaper. He recalls their history as he contemplates the time ahead of him and reacts to his fellow travelers.

Fenno, their first son, has the center (and much longer) story, a grown man also not sure of what he wants. He strikes me as a characters who is, for various reasons, intensely private, yet we are privy to all his musings and secrets. We hear about his intensely private, emotionally contained life in New York City, how he does not participate in the gay scene of the 90s until a critical seduction by a free-spirited housesitter, Tony, how he builds a deep friendship (non-sexual) with a young, inventive and sharp-tongued neighbor, Mal, ill with AIDS. During this time, Fenno's father dies, and he returns to Scotland for the funeral.

The last section of the book is perhaps weakest, drawing together people from the past two parts of the story, showing how the lives of even minor characters cross and recross while we have read about other things. At the last, the reader knows enough about the crossings to anticipate what will come next. ( )
  ffortsa | Nov 3, 2021 |
Disappointing. Almost gave up near the end. Give up on this author if this is her best ( )
  oldblack | Apr 22, 2020 |
I got through it but almost quit a couple of times, wondering why I was still reading. It wasn't bad, just.....boring. A family saga that starts in Scotland with three young brothers, the oldest of whom eventually moves to the US. As I sit here unable to succinctly state what the book is about, I'll quote from the back "A luminous first novel (2002), set in Greece, Scotland, Greenwich Village, and Long Island, that traces the members of a Scottish family as they confront the joys and longings, fulfillments and betrayals of love in all its guises." I guess.

The brother who moves to the US is gay and has a hard time settling in and find his way in NYC; the middle brother marries and becomes the dominant sibling, though has family angst in trying to have a family; the youngest brother marries, has 3 daughters and becomes a chef. The three personalities are well drawn but I still rushed through the book, looking for a reason to keep reading. I never did figure out what the 'three Junes' meant. ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Assuming that our energies are sufficient, love is interminable.

-Jim Harrison, The Road Home
Dedication
For Alex and Oliver, my extraordinary sons
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Paul chose Greece for its predictable whiteness: the blanching heat by day, the rush of stars at night, the glint of the lime-washed houses crowding its coast.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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Jour de juin construit sous la forme d'un triptyque où se succèdent trois étés dans la vie de McLeod . À la mort de sa femme , Paul entreprend un voyage en Grèce . Là-bas , il s'éprend d'une jeune artiste peintre . Son fils aîné, Fenno, a fui l'Écosse pour New York où il tient une librairie ; il noue mal une relation particulière avec son voisin , critique musical , flamboyant gay , atteint du sida . La perte douloureuse qui s'en suivra bouleversera sa vie . Jours de juin tisse sa trame entre le passé et le présent , soulignant la fragilité des personnages , leurs moments de grâce et leur quête d'un pays où ils espèrent échapper aux pièges de l'existence et à la solitude .
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