Three Junes

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Julia Glass’s novel, Three Junes, is a work in three parts, with each section narrating a particular June, important in the lives of the Scottish McLeod family. In the first section, set in 1989, Glass narrates the story of patriarch Paul McLeod, recently widowed and on a trip to Greece. While on the trip, he meets a young American artist, Fern. His interest in Fern forces Paul to recall his own marriage: the courtship, the days at the family home of Tealing, and his wife’s death. Through his reflections, the reader begins to understand the complexities of Paul’s marriage to Maureen, a woman whose first love was raising border collies.

The second section, set in both Tealing and New York in 1995, is the story of Paul’s eldest son, Fenno, a gay bookstore owner. Fenno returns to Tealing for his father’s funeral, and there reconnects with his brothers, the twins David and Dennis. Through flashbacks, the reader learns of Fenno’s relationship with Mal, a music critic dying of AIDS, and Tony, a photographer.

The final section, set in the Hamptons in 1999, is told from Fern’s point of view, and brings together the pregnant but unmarried Fern, Fenno, Dennis, and Tony at a weekend house party. Ironically, although it is clear that Fern and Fenno are destined to become friends, neither knows of the connection between them.

The novel winds its way through decades with skill and grace, revealing in its passing the ways a family grows apart, and together. Ultimately, Three Junes is a story of love: the love of parents for their children, of husbands for wives, of wives for husbands, of men for men, and of a family for the future.