5 reviews

Three Junes
by Julia Glass

Published: 2003-05
Paperback : 353 pages
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31 clubs reading this now
20 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 5 members
An astonishing first novel that traces the lives of a Scottish family over a decade as they confront the joys and longings, fulfillments and betrayals of love in all its guises.

In June of 1989 Paul McLeod, a newspaper publisher and recent widower, travels to Greece, where he falls for a ...
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Winner-2003 National Book Awards for Fiction
This symphonic first novel teems with relationships and interconnected lives--about love, death, and birth in a Scottish family.

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Discussion Questions

Questions from Publisher's Guide:
1. Julia Glass is also a painter. How do the style, structure, and descriptive passages of Three Junes reflect her artistic sensibility? How do the various segments, stories, and flashbacks work within the chronological text?

2. While traveling in Greece, Marjorie says she cannot stop “collecting worlds. . . . Different views, each representing a new window” [pp. 31–32]. How is the role of the traveler and observer like the role of the author?

3. Place figures crucially in the novel, whether it is a Greek island, a Scottish town, the West Village of New York City, or a Long Island town. What is the importance of each place and its role in the context of the entire novel? What are the symbolic differences between the countryside and the city? Where does Fenno belong?

4. The episodes in the first part, Paul’s vacation in Greece juxtaposed against the tale of his life in Scotland, come together to form a picture of his marriage with Maureen. Why does the author tell his tale in this fashion? Why is this part titled “Collies”?

5. Why does Paul, the steady shepherd of his family and newspaper, go to Greece first on vacation and then to live? Do you think he really wanted to “drop [his memories] like stones, one by one, in the sea” [p. 49]?

6. In the beginning, Fern reminds Paul of Maureen. Are the two alike or not? What are their similarities and differences? What does each want from life? How have Fern’s relationships affected her character and choices? Why hasn’t she told Stavros about her pregnancy? What is she afraid of?

7. Why doesn’t Fenno visit his father in Greece? What else has Fenno postponed doing or compromised for the sake of work or being upright? What consumes Fenno? What is the cause of the coolness between Fenno and his brother David? Is it rivalry? Do you think this coolness changes by the novel’s end? Which brother seems more admirable, and why?

8. What does the author accomplish by dividing the book into three parts with only the second as a first-person narrative? Why does she let Fenno tell his own story? What effect does this have on the reader? In addition, why does Fenno occasionally address the reader—for instance, when he says, “feeling left out, you will have noticed, is second nature to me” [p. 125]? Does this make us sympathetic to Fenno?

9. Part Two is titled “Upright.” Why? Is uprightness a positive or negative characteristic? Which characters are upright in the novel? Who is not?

10. What is the appeal of birds for Fenno and Mal? Fascinated by birds as an adolescent, Fenno covers the walls of his bookstore, named Plume, with bird prints. The dishes Mal breaks have birds on them. Felicity—Mal’s and then Fenno’s bird—is a vital character in the novel. Do birds and books have a special connection here?
11. What is the role of the mother in Three Junes? Has motherhood transformed or hindered Maureen? Do you think it will change Fern? How does Lucinda, the übermother, carry out her role? How about Véronique?

12. The novel teems with interconnected relationships. Describe some of them. Paul and Maureen—were they both satisfied in life? In marriage? Mal and Fenno—was their relationship ever fully actualized? Fenno and Tony—what kind of attraction did they share? Was it purely sexual? Tony and Fern—what brought them together? Fern and Stavros—will they stay together? Which is your favorite couple?

13. Tony’s job is “to take the very, very small and make it large. . . . Give stature to the details” [p. 277], which is also what the author does. Is Tony a compelling character in Three Junes? Is he simply a foil to Fenno and Fern? What is his purpose in the novel?

14. How does food—its smells, textures, and tastes—weave its way into all three parts of the novel? Why does the author vividly spell out the menus and recipes for us at all the critical meals? Which dishes are the most memorable?
15. What are the various views of death presented in Three Junes? How does the author view death? How do the characters in the novel accept or come to terms with death?

16. Anna explains to Fern, “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” [p. 286]. Glass ends her novel echoing this quote. Why? What do Anna’s words signify?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Pat B. (see profile) 02/01/21

by Kathleen M. (see profile) 03/04/19

  ""Three Junes" Not For Everyone"by Leeann M. (see profile) 10/01/10

I found this book hard to get into, slow moving, and with several confusing leaps between the stories' presents and pasts. I thought the beginning was especially difficult to trudge through and the end... (read more)

  "Slow to start, but worth the time"by Toni B. (see profile) 09/22/10

This book was not what I expected, but...I enjoyed it. It was alittle slow to start but to me, worth the time. I eventually was pulled in to wanting to know more, wanting to see what would happen to... (read more)

  "The Three Junes"by Gail M. (see profile) 09/01/09

Each section of the book (Paul, Fenno, Fern sections as I like to call them)----were in June when they were in the present tense.

Paul was in Greece during summer months, 6 years later

... (read more)

  "Three Junes"by Christine C. (see profile) 08/27/09

Although well written, I found there were too many loose ends which the author, or certainly her editor should have picked up on. Also, the three Junes in the book were not as obvious as I thought they... (read more)

  "Hard book to read"by jodi p. (see profile) 08/12/09

My club did not like this book. Only one person managed to read the whole book. I wanted to like it but I found the way the author wrote the book confusing to follow what was going on.
... (read more)

  "Very interesting story line with well flushed out characters"by Maria L. (see profile) 05/08/08

Very engrossing book that was an enjoyable read! Everyone in the group enjoyed this book very much!

  "Half of us loved it, the other half hated it!"by marla t. (see profile) 04/21/08

Our club read this book over 2 years ago and had very mixed feelings. Great for discussion!

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