The Whole World Over
By Julia Glass
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375422744, 528pp.)
Publication Date: May 23, 2006
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From the author of the beloved novel Three Junes comes a rich and commanding story about the accidents, both grand and small, that determine our choices in love and marriage. Greenie Duquette, openhearted yet stubborn, devotes most of her passionate attention to her Greenwich Village bakery and her four–year–old son, George. Her husband, Alan, seems to have fallen into a midlife depression, while Walter, a traditional gay man who has become her closest professional ally, is nursing a broken heart.
It is at Walter’s restaurant that the visiting governor of New Mexico tastes Greenie’s coconut cake and decides to woo her away from the city to be his chef. For reasons both ambitious and desperate, she accepts—and finds herself heading west without her husband. This impulsive decision will change the course of several lives within and beyond Greenie’s orbit. Alan, alone in New York, must face down his demons; Walter, eager for platonic distraction, takes in his teenage nephew. Yet Walter cannot steer clear of love trouble, and despite his enforced solitude, Alan is still surrounded by women: his powerful sister, an old flame, and an animal lover named Saga, who grapples with demons all her own. As for Greenie, living in the shadow of a charismatic politician leads to a series of unforeseen consequences that separate her from her only child. We watch as folly, chance, and determination pull all these lives together and apart over a year that culminates in the fall of the twin towers at the World Trade Center, an event that will affirm or confound the choices each character has made—or has refused to face.
Julia Glass is at her best here, weaving a glorious tapestry of lives and lifetimes, of places and people, revealing the subtle mechanisms behind our most important, and often most fragile, connections to others. In The Whole World Over she has given us another tale that pays tribute to the extraordinary complexities of love.
Julia Glass, winner of the National Book Award for her novel Three Junes, was a 2004—2005 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and her short stories have been honored with three Nelson Algren Awards and the Tobias Wolff Award. Until recently a longtime New Yorker, she now lives with her family in Massachusetts.
Praise for The Whole World Over
“In her second rich, subtle novel, Glass reveals how the past impinges on the present, and how small incidents of fate and chance determine the future . . . Glass brings the same assured narrative drive and engaging prose to this exploration of the quest for love and its tests-absence, doubt, infidelity, guilt and loss.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The cultures of Manhattan and New Mexico, straight and gay relationships, parents and children, are sensitively explored in Glass's replete successor to her NBA-winning debut novel, Three Junes . . . Glass knows what she's doing. Readers who love quirky characters and a gentle wit that breathes affection even as it skewers human foolishness and frailty will follow her anywhere.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] winning second novel . . . Harks back to Trollope and Tolstoy. Like her predecessors, [Glass] finds inspiration in the vicissitudes of family strife . . . Watching Glass sort out a dozen intersecting story lines is never less than fascinating. In keeping with her nineteenth-century influences, she resolves all loose ends, treating everyone with remarkable evenhandedness in her bustling, congenial world.”
–Elizabeth Judd, The Atlantic Monthly
“How does one follow up a National Book Award? Glass (Three Junes ) creates an array of full-bodied yet vulnerable characters whose intersecting lives converge on September 11 . . . Glass's long but always captivating tale is a quilt of many colors and motivations whose strongest threads are love of family and sense of self.”
"A voluptuous treat." --Entertainment Weekly, A-
"Glass gracefully [and] deftly explores the sacrifices, compromises, and leaps of faith that accompany love." --Booklist
"This delicious novel is so like life." --More
Praise for Three Junes
“Three Junes brilliantly rescues, then refurbishes, the traditional plot–driven novel . . . Glass has written a generous book about family expectations—but also about happiness.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Radiant . . . an intimate literary triptych of lives pulled together and torn apart.”
“Enormously accomplished . . . rich, absorbing, and full of life.” —The New Yorker
“Three Junes almost threatens to burst with all the life it contains. Glass’s ability to illuminate and deepen the mysteries of her characters’ lives is extraordinary.”
—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
“A warm, wise debut . . . Three Junes marks a blessed event for readers of literary fiction everywhere.” —San Francisco Chronicle