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Book review: ‘Three Junes’

October 18, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

Spanning three summers and four years, National Book Award winning “Three Junes” by Julia Glass is a series of life revelations from love, marriage, travel, death and reunions. 

It’s June of 1989 and newspaper publisher and recent widower Paul McLeod goes abroad to Greece, his ancestral home. Unexpectedly, he falls for a young American artist there — driving him into his complicated past and the truth of what his marriage with his wife was. 

Six years later in June, Paul has passed and the grief sends his three grown sons travel to Greece with their families. Fenno, the oldest, is a self-aware, introspective and sometimes jaded man. Far from his well-organized home life as a bookseller back in Greenwich Village, Fenno is unprepared and set back by a series of revelations that threaten his carefully drawn existence in Greece, much as his father did all those years ago. 

Four years down the line, in yet another June, a chance meeting on the Long Island shore finds Fenno with Fern Olitsky, the artist who once captivated his father’s heart. This time, Fern is lost soul who must decide what family means to her and how she’ll raise her own future one. 

Glass’ writing is rich and colorful, filled with compassion and wry wit. There is a lot of present sequence as well as flashbacks. The characters are engaging and sweeping in how they are drawn — each reflecting their personal histories and uncertain futures. The timeline is vast and spans much of the globe, finding the thin line between place and self — and if there is indeed one. 

“When it comes to life, we spin our own yarn, and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be.”

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