Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Three Junes

Julia Glass

This book was recommended to me by a friend who said it has a great sense of place, and that my own book needs a sense of one of those, so I should read this.

And having read it, I agree that it does have a very nice sense of place, and it is a very nice book with many sad things in it, and the structural concept – that it covers three pivotal Junes in the lives of interconnected characters – is a lovely one. Especially since I spent years vaguely assuming the book was about three ladies named June who did things in Ireland somewhere. Which is not what it is about.

The novel has that familiar leisurely, delicate pacing that tends to distinguish literary fiction. It is a book about relationships, and it slows down in step with the rhythm of its characters. But while I was struck by some of the language in the book, and many of the vignettes were quite beautiful on their own, much of the story, many of the characters (many of whom I kept confusing, because they all had names that started with the same letters as all of the other characters, and that was deeply irritating) were not entirely worth that endless meandering. The characters were often flawed and fallible, and that should have been interesting and engaging except often, I found myself impatient with them, and impatient with the author and the quibbles I had with the book – sentences that should have been rewritten, a baby who shows up out of nowhere, contradictions that should have been caught in the copy editing.

The ending, though, was lovely and remarkable and touching, and that is, in the end, what left me with a generally positive feeling about this book, though no desire to read her next.


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