I am really excited to talk about Three Junes by Julia Glass. A book I’m only able to speak about in cliches. “I loved the raw emotion”, I told Tyler. “It’s just heartbreaking.” “Beautiful” Like I’m writing a bad blurb for the cover of the book. The books I like, I mean, really, really, like are the books I can’t speak about with any eloquence. I feel something about them I can’t express. And I just think: Love. Love. There is so much love for this book, I just want to gush and force it into people’s hands and become completely inarticulate and say “I loooove this book” “You are going to looooove this book”. Looooove.
But, (sigh), this is not what Tuesday Books for Writers is all about. I must articulate what I admire about the book. The craft. That is my personal challenge. So, beyond this ‘raw emotion’ and this looooooove, oh the love!, the thing I am most impressed with is…
…the narrative structure.
Gosh, I just re-read that sentence. What a let down.
But, for real, the narrative is tricky. It tells an incredible amount of story in a short period of time. Part I is told in third person and deals with the patriarch of a Scottish Family, who has recently lost his wife and has taken a trip to Greece. While we watch him discover Greece, Glass takes us back in time to tell three other stories: the story of he and his wife’s meeting and eventual marriage. The story of one of his wife’s colleagues. And the story of her dying. It alternates between his time in Greece and those three storylines in the past.
Part II does the same, but I don’t want to spoil anything, because Part II really surprised me. It is the longest of the three parts of the novel and it is told in first person. A completely unexpected first person. And, again, it weaves a brand new present with a brand new past. And some of the stories overlap with the stories told in Part I, from a very different point of view.
Part III takes us to yet another surprising third person point of view, wrapping up some leftover cliffhangers from previous story lines and opening up a whole new story.
I have to tell you, it is an incredible way to tell one big story through a lot of little stories. That’s the best way I can describe it. Really impressive. So I recommend this book if you’re interested in a unique narrative structure. It may inspire you to tell your story differently. To experiment. Because if you can do it as flawlessly as Glass does in this novel, I think you’ll, ya know, win the National Book Award. 😉
And if you don’t give a darn about narrative structure, and you just want to fall in loooooove, or finish a book and hug it to your chest while you exclaim how dare the author do this to you and can she please fill up a lifetime of books about these characters so you can follow them forever and ever and never have to leave them again…if you want that, then I beg you to go out and buy this book.
Have you read this book? Have you fallen in love with a book recently?