by Julia Glass
Winner of the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction, Three Junes is about a Scottish family, the McLeods, and the many other people in their orbit. Parents, Paul and Maureen; son, Fenno; and twins, David and Dennis, are seen encountering love and loss at various life stages. The changing relationships of adult siblings, as well as the comfort brought by pets and other animals are themes which figure prominently in the novel.
The three Junes of the title occur in 1989, 1995 and 1999, and in each period there is a mix of the past and present. In the initial section we meet Paul McLeod, mourning the death of his wife and embarking on a relationship with Fern, a young artist traveling in Greece. Paul recalls the past – his wife’s probable infidelity, the newspaper run by his family and his service in the war. The second section focuses on Paul’s eldest son, Fenno, a Greenwich Village bookstore proprietor, who returns to Scotland for his father’s funeral. Fenno’s present and past relationships are explored – with his twin siblings and their families and with fellow gay Manhattanites Tony, his elusive lover; Ralph, his mentor; and Malachy Burns, a music critic coping with AIDS. In the third section, we meet up with Fern again, unmarried and pregnant in New York. We learn of her disappointing past relationships, married and otherwise, with heterosexuals and otherwise. This time, her connection to the McLeods is through Tony, Fenno’s ex-lover. Her relationship with Fenno, and Fenno’s with his brother Dennis bring the intricately woven novel to an end.
For On the Same Page, the Library has purchased the 2002 paperback edition published by Vintage Anchor Books. It is also available at the Library in large print format and as a talking book in CD and audiocassette formats.
About the Author
Like her character, Fern, Julia Glass toured Greece as a young art student. Glass received a fellowship to paint in Paris after graduating from Yale University. She worked as a copy editor and despite winning prizes for her art, she was drawn to writing more than painting, eventually shifting course in her career. Her artistic background shows in her comparison of the novel to a triptych, with Fenno as the central figure, faced on each side by characters from the other two sections.
Reworking one of her first short stories, the unpublished Souvenirs, into a novella entitled Collies, Glass won the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society medal for best novella. Personal crises, including the end of her marriage, breast cancer and the death of her older sister, influenced the author’s decision to rewrite Collies from the point of view of the mourning older man, which in turn led to the first section of her novel, Three Junes. The author’s travails left her with the feeling that some wounds remain, despite the healing effects of time. Her critically-acclaimed second novel, The Whole World Over, was published this year and brings pastry chef, Greenie Duquette, and several other New Yorkers, including Fenno McLeod, together at the time of the 9/11 attacks.