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I See You Everywhereby Julia Glass
"[Julia Glass] strings together a series of episodes with alternating points of view that meander along for a while, then trail off into a vapor....The stop-and-start effect of this structure might lead some to regard Glass's book as closer to a set of linked stories than a novel, but to me it reads like the same novel starting over and over again, a wearying process in which Glass's sprightly prose...becomes stifled." Donna Rifkind, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the best-selling Three Junes comes an intimate new work of fiction: a tale of two sisters, together and apart, told in their alternating voices over twenty-five years.
Louisa Jardine is the older one, the conscientious student, precise and careful: the one who yearns for a good marriage, an artistic career, a family. Clem, the archetypal youngest, is the rebel: uncontainable, iconoclastic, committed to her work but not to the men who fall for her daring nature. Louisa resents that the charismatic Clem has always been the favorite; yet as Clem puts it, On the other side of the fence-mine-every expectation you fulfill...puts you one stop closer to that Grand Canyon rim from which you could one day rule the world — or plummet in very grand style.
In this vivid, heartrending story of what we can and cannot do for those we love, the sisters grow closer as they move farther apart. Louis settles in New York while Clem, a wildlife biologist, moves restlessly about until she lands in the Rocky Mountains. Their complex bond, Louisa observes, is like a double helix, two souls coiling around a common axis, joined yet never touching.
Alive with all the sensual detail and riveting characterization that mark Glass's previous work, I See You Everywhere is a piercingly candid story of life and death, companionship and sorrow, and the nature of sisterhood itself.
"Signature Reviewed by Lydia MilletThe fictional palate of Julia Glass, bestselling author of 2002's Three Junes, is one of dog-breeding women and foxhunts, tony Manhattan galleries and boutiques, European travel and haute-cuisine chefs. In common with Rebecca Wells's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood franchise, Glass's third novel, I See You Everywhere, has female bonding among the landed gentry, a focus on relationships, and devil-may-care, enigmatically charming women of great romantic allure. Like Three Junes, the novel is a series of vignettes across the years, in this instance from the points of view of two sisters with different personalities. Louisa, the elder, is the steady sister on the lookout for love, while Clem is the younger sister, an adventuring, restless spirit with an unfortunate habit of chewing men up and spitting them out. Their parents, too, resemble those in Three Junes: the mother is obsessed with raising and training expensive dogs on a country estate (this time in Rhode Island instead of Scotland); their father is a good-natured, kindly soul who plays second fiddle to a powerful wife. Louisa, not unlike Glass herself, is an urban woman who inhabits the New York art world and moves from making art (pottery) to writing; Clem, being a wilder sort, has a passion for wild animals and moves around the remoter reaches of the continent as an itinerant biologist to do contract work with charismatic fauna ranging from seals to grizzly bears. It's not entirely clear how the sisters relate to each other's livelihoods; Clem seems largely uninterested in art, whereas Louisa alternates between lavishly praising her sister's work to save animals as heroic and referring to polar bears, in 2005, as 'like Al Gore... suddenly all the alarmist rage.' City and country mouse have a wary, competitive, sometimes antagonistic relationship grounded in affection; they occasionally steal each other's boyfriends, but are usually there for each other in times of need, up to and including possible drowning, maiming and cancer. Both cook well, though Louisa is the true gourmet. Clem is better in the sack, at least if we take her word for it: as she says in a letter — reminding us, perhaps inadvertently, of the pia colada song — what she likes most in life are laughter, sex, champagne and sunsets. The sisters do have music in common: though both white, they listen almost exclusively to music by black performers, from Billie Holiday to Bob Marley.I See You Everywhere has a bourgeois, chick lit sensibility, minus the proud vacuousness of the Bushnell set and plus a somewhat unexpected, sad vanishing act by one of the protagonists. It should prove an engaging and intelligent, though not literary, page-turner for sisters who like to revel in sisterhood.Lydia Millet's most recent novel is How the Dead Dream (Counterpoint). " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Art grows from much more than family drama," muses one of the characters in Julia Glass' first novel, "Three Junes." True enough, yet without family drama there would be no "Three Junes, which won the National Book Award in 2002. Set in Greece, Scotland and New York, and exploring the emotional lives of several generations of a family, "Three Junes" satisfied, for many readers, the itch for an expansive,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) multi-layered, brazenly sentimental novel that addressed contemporary domestic issues in an appealingly old-fashioned way. Glass' new novel also makes family drama its business and uses some of the same structural techniques as "Three Junes." (A novel in between, "The Whole World Over," appeared in 2006.) But the experience her new book offers readers is strikingly different. A tale of two sisters, "I See You Everywhere" ranges more widely across time than "Three Junes," whose action spanned the decade between 1989 and 1999. The new book covers 25 years, beginning in 1980, in the lives of Louisa and Clem Jardine, who are dissimilar siblings in every way. Louisa is blonde, prickly, Harvard-educated and urban, working as an editor at an art magazine in New York after a brief career as a potter; Clem, four years younger and darker, taller and stronger, is a roving and somewhat messianic wildlife biologist. "Imagine Jonathan Schell and Rachel Carson as Siamese twins," Louisa says. "That's my sister at her worst." And that's Louisa's tone throughout the book, as she competes with Clem to serve as the book's narrator. "If you're to hear Louisa's version of what went on last summer," warns Clem, "you will also be hearing mine." Yet Glass takes care to emphasize that, judgmental and competitive as these sisters are, they are also indispensable to each other. "I want to outshine her, I want to be the wiser, the smarter, the better loved," admits Louisa about Clem, "but I want to keep an eye on her. She is, after all, irreplaceable." What is the source of the Jardine sisters' rivalry? As they reveal in dueling anecdotes, their childhood seems to have been happy enough, a sophisticated, outdoorsy idyll in the key of L.L. Bean. They grew up near the Rhode Island coast with a brisk, feisty mother who raises champion foxhounds and a mild-mannered father, the transplanted scion of an old-money New Orleans clan who runs three boatyards and grows premium roses. Both girls know that Clem has always been her mother's favorite, with Clem's habitual recklessness inspiring more worry and more devotion than Louisa's more predictable caution. For this inequity Louisa will never forgive her sister, finding fresh grievance with each new proof of her mother's partiality. Disappointingly, we see these interesting parents only in glimpses, as Glass has locked herself into a narrative structure designed to keep our attention on the adult standoff between Louisa and Clem. To this end, she strings together a series of episodes with alternating points of view that meander along for a while, then trail off into a vapor. Louisa offers a bitter view of her disintegrating marriage to a nice but boring history teacher, while Clem, who leaves a trail of devastated boyfriends behind her, confesses that she wants Louisa's marriage to last, not for her sister's sake, but for her own. ("I need Louisa to be with this placid, loyal man.") And Louisa delivers sharp disapproval as Clem discards those boyfriends — romantic figures with names like Zip and Larney — and roams the eco-preserving world, moving impulsively from a Vermont raptor sanctuary to a seal station on the Labrador coast to a grizzly bear surveillance site in Wyoming. The stop-and-start effect of this structure might lead some to regard Glass' book as closer to a set of linked stories than a novel, but to me it reads like the same novel starting over and over again, a wearying process in which Glass' sprightly prose — the "glutinous drawl" of New Orleans relatives; an earnest young East Village artist who "dresses in apologetic browns"; Louisa's "deep, corrugated breath" during an emotional moment — becomes stifled. Why did the episodic structure of "Three Junes" and "The Whole World Over" seem so expansive, when it feels so constricting in her third novel? I think the answer lies in the new book's she-said/she-said design, in which Glass insists on illuminating each sister in the other's reflection. Things loosen up a bit in the second half of the book, when several serious crises briefly permit the reader to stop acting as an arbiter between the quarreling siblings and to concentrate on a single character who isn't being defined, for the moment, by another. "As we grow older," Louisa thinks, "our tragedies diminish in their grandeur." Yet the opposite is true here: Only when Glass confronts her characters head on, in their later years, do they begin to spark the reader's sympathy. Before then, despite their picky complaints about each other, they seem distractingly indistinct, dwelling in each other's shadow. I looked and looked, but couldn't see them anywhere. Donna Rifkind reviews frequently for The Washington Post Book World. Reviewed by Donna Rifkind, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[A] promising extension of Glass's already impressive range." Kirkus Reviews
"Glass is a wisely questioning, ardent, and artful novelist." Booklist
"Rich, intricate and alive with emotion....Glass has used the edges and color blocks of her own life to build an honest portrait of sister-love and sister-hate." New York Times
"Julia Glass is a writer firmly in control." Dallas Morning News
"Glass elegantly captures what it means to be an independent and spirited contemporary woman." Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Julia Glass is the author of Three Junes, which won the National Book Award for Fiction, and The Whole World Over. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her short fiction has won several prizes, including the Tobias Wolff Award and the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Medal for the Best Novella. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.
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