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Three Junes


Three Junes Cover



Reading Group Guide

Julia Glass's 2002 National Book Award winner Three Junes has won critical acclaim for its brave and gracious treatment of difficult family and social issues, as well as its sensitive exploration of the intricacies of love and loss. The story is told through the eyes of three characters: Paul, a Scottish widower who spends a solitary holiday in Greece reflecting on the glories and disappointments of his married life; his son Fenno, who moves to New York to find independence from family expectations and ends up redefining family through his love for a friend dying of AIDS; and finally Fern, a spunky mother-to-be who is a kindred spirit to both father and son, and whose struggle to come to terms with her own past and present loves helps to illuminate the risk that each of the novel's characters faces in loving someone else. Three Junes artfully traces the family's progress through rift and recovery, and portrays the personal and collective strength that comes through the struggles that life presents.

Suggestions and Topics for Discussion:
1. From Paul's memories and descriptions, how would you describe Maureen? After one encounter with Maureen, Paul is described as follows: "His heart felt like a flock of sheep outrun yet again by a good cunning dog, forced neatly into a cramped square pen." What does this description mean, and what does it tell you about Paul?

2. Fenno provides the book's only first-person narration, and thus offers a distinctive perspective on his family back in Scotland and France. How does Fenno describe his twin brothers David and Dennis and their wives? How would you describe his attitude toward his family?

3. What does Fenno mean when he says that he tried to lead an "upright" life in New York?

4. At one point Fenno complains that his life is "highly compartmentalized: private home life/ life at the shop/ relations with my straitlaced family across an ocean/ evenings with Mal/ and — like a dusky passionate snowscape down in a corner — mornings with Tony." Why does Fenno divide his life into strict categories? Do you think that he grows beyond this compartmentalization by the end of the novel?

Muse Notes by Denise Silva
Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved.

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Witz, October 23, 2014 (view all comments by Witz)
Fine read with three overlapping stories that focus on two generations of one family over a stretch of time, always in June. I found some of the scenes set in the early stories to be highly cinematic and there is much drama revealed in the marriage of the parents of the son and daughter who figure in the later stories. The latter stories also include the impact of a friend's AIDS illness on a member of the family.
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mrbillw, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by mrbillw)
a tryptich,
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mrbillw, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by mrbillw)
a tryptich
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Product Details

Glass, Julia
Anchor Books
New York
Fathers and sons
Gay men
Psychological fiction
Long island
Domestic fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
April 22, 2003
Grade Level:
7.9 x 5.1 x 1 in 0.625 lb

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Three Junes Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Anchor (UK) - English 9780385721424 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Sophisticated . . . Engrossing . . . Catches the surprising twists and turns in family relationships, amid love, loss, hope and regret."
"Review" by , "Readers may be reminded of Evelyn Waugh and, especially, Angus Wilson by the rich characterizations and narrative sweep that grace this fine debut....Glass makes it all work, though the parts are not uniformly credible or compelling. Nevertheless, a rather formidable debut."
"Review" by , "The artful construction of this seductive novel and the mature, compassionate wisdom permeating it would be impressive for a seasoned writer, but it's all the more remarkable in a debut....In this dazzling portrait of family life, Glass establishes her literary credentials with ingenuity and panache."
"Review" by , "Fiercely realized. . .luxuriant in its emotional comprehension and the idea, or promise, that anything might happen." Boston Globe

"Review" by , "Many undercurrents and emotions run through this mesmerizing novel....Brimming with a marvelous cast of intricate characters set in an assortment of scintillating backdrops, Glass's philosophically introspective novel is highly intelligent and well written."
"Review" by , "[A] strong and memorable debut novel....Alternately joyful and sad, this exploration of modern relationships and the families people both inherit or create for themselves is highly recommended for all fiction collections."
"Review" by , "A warm, wise debut....Three Junes marks a blessed event for readers of literary fiction everywhere."
"Review" by , "This first novel treats family ties, erotic longing, small children and prolonged deaths from AIDS and cancer with a subtlety that grows from scrupulous unsentimentality."
"Review" by , "Three Junes brilliantly rescues, then refurbishes, the traditional plot-driven novel. . . Glass has written a generous book about family expectations — but also about happiness."
"Review" by , "Formidable. . . The traditional novel of social relations is very much alive in Three Junes. Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen, among other exemplars, would surely approve."
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