I guess the main reason I pick out this particular title is that it won the National Book Award for fiction preceded by Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and the obvious fact that it contains most of the theme’s I loved to read. Three Junes is a first novel that recounts the lives of a middle-class Scottish family over a decade, with particular events happening in the month of June as they confront every joys, longing and betrayals in its entire guise, particularly of love. Though I would confess I really didn’t pay much attention on what has happened in every separate June’s (and of course I’m sure every bit of it was essential for it to be the title of the story) it is not a fact that I did not enjoy the book, maybe it’s too entertaining for me to grasp every detail of the novel.
The novel is separated into three parts that happened in 1989, 1995, and 1999 respectively with its distinct narrator. The first part is narrated by Paul McLeod, a newspaper publisher and a widower. He travels to Greece where he falls for a young American artist while contemplating his own marriage. The second part of the novel is narrated by his eldest son, Fenno. Fenno McLeod, the eldest is a sensitive and introspective gay man, a bookseller who recounts his life back and fourth in Manhattan and with the lives of his family. His relationship to every human involve with himself and how he tries to help them in his very own way. The third part is narrated by the pregnant Fern Olitsky who starts to make sense of her past and present experiences to move forward in life.
Glass characters are too human that it is possible for me to hate some of them like Fenno’s mother (I wouldn’t spoil anyone why), not in the sense that they are poorly drawn but it is like people I know which I resent but somehow understand and her portrayal for the result of a distressing situation is captured in words that might possibly happen in real life. One thing I also liked about the novel is its structure. Like when the author presents an unlikeable character and then suddenly you’ll find him or her again but to your liking this time, makes you conclude that you wished to read more from them, lest ask what has happened to him or her.
I am aware that the novel is a slow read because the author tends to narrate feelings and reflections and not actions which really don’t move the plot. I occasionally witness on how a character unfolds and come to life for a couple of pages and I’m quite surprised I wasn’t stuck with any of these (with the exception of dialogues I wanted to quote) and not found myself being bored.
At times joyful and moving, a heartbreaking account of life lived with choices that we grasp not because of mere carelessness but because of what we loved. Three Junes is a heartfelt and haunting portrait of a life we all lived. It makes me reassess my life and decisions, to avoid for the something possibly bad to happen and to strive for the better possible. After reading this one, at times I longed to read more of its people and wished the author had written more than three June’s. It is that affecting and gorgeously written.
The first part of Three Junes entitled ”Collies” won the 1999 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Medal for Best Novella. The novel itself won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2002.
Opening Sentence: 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.
Ending Sentence: In this exchange, there is a kind of security, like the settling of an anchor on a harbor floor, and she reads on his face what she imagines to be the same recognition and pleasure she feels: Here we are-despite the delays, the confusion, and the shadows en route-at last, or of the moment, where we always intended to be.