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The Whole World Over

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When a piece of her coconut cake is served to the governor of New Mexico, he woos Greenie Duquette, a Greenwich Village pastry chef away from the life she knows to become his chef – a change that sets in motion a period of adventure and upheaval not just for Greenie but for many others around her. From the author of the beloved novel Three Junes comes a rich and When a piece of her coconut cake is served to the governor of New Mexico, he woos Greenie Duquette, a Greenwich Village pastry chef away from the life she knows to become his chef – a change that sets in motion a period of adventure and upheaval not just for Greenie but for many others around her. 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.


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When a piece of her coconut cake is served to the governor of New Mexico, he woos Greenie Duquette, a Greenwich Village pastry chef away from the life she knows to become his chef – a change that sets in motion a period of adventure and upheaval not just for Greenie but for many others around her. From the author of the beloved novel Three Junes comes a rich and When a piece of her coconut cake is served to the governor of New Mexico, he woos Greenie Duquette, a Greenwich Village pastry chef away from the life she knows to become his chef – a change that sets in motion a period of adventure and upheaval not just for Greenie but for many others around her. 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.

30 review for The Whole World Over

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Maine

    This is the first book I've read by this author, and it will be the last. Although some of the scenes were engaging and well-written, she really shows her northeast provincialism by painting characters from new Mexico as utter good-ol-boy stereotypes. To top it off, after creating a pile of characters who are uninteresting and dull, she tries to ratchet up the emotional involvement by tossing in Sept 11: "Oh gosh! I hope so-and-so wasn't caught in the WTC!" or words to that effect. This is the c This is the first book I've read by this author, and it will be the last. Although some of the scenes were engaging and well-written, she really shows her northeast provincialism by painting characters from new Mexico as utter good-ol-boy stereotypes. To top it off, after creating a pile of characters who are uninteresting and dull, she tries to ratchet up the emotional involvement by tossing in Sept 11: "Oh gosh! I hope so-and-so wasn't caught in the WTC!" or words to that effect. This is the cheapest type of writing--pulling out a recent and very genuine disaster to try to make your reader give a damn about watery, two-dimensional, uninteresting characters. It's happening a lot lately, and I find it offensive.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    When I plucked this from the sidewalk clearance area of my favorite U.S. bookstore, all I knew about it was that it featured a chef and was set in New York City and New Mexico. Those facts were enough to get me interested, and my first taste of Julia Glass’s fiction did not disappoint. I started reading it in the States at the very end of December and finished it in the middle of this month, gobbling up the last 250 pages or so all in one weekend. Charlotte “Greenie” Duquette is happy When I plucked this from the sidewalk clearance area of my favorite U.S. bookstore, all I knew about it was that it featured a chef and was set in New York City and New Mexico. Those facts were enough to get me interested, and my first taste of Julia Glass’s fiction did not disappoint. I started reading it in the States at the very end of December and finished it in the middle of this month, gobbling up the last 250 pages or so all in one weekend. Charlotte “Greenie” Duquette is happy enough with her life: a successful bakery in Greenwich Village, her psychiatrist husband Alan, and their young son George. But one February 29th – that anomalous day when anything might happen – she gets a call from the office of the governor of New Mexico, who tasted her famous coconut cake (sandwiched with lemon curd and glazed in brown sugar) at her friend Walter’s tavern and wants her to audition for a job as his personal chef at the governor’s mansion in Santa Fe. It’s just the right offer to shake up her stagnating career and marriage. One thing you can count on from a doorstopper, from Dickens onward, is that most of the many characters will be connected (“a collection of invisibly layered lives” is how Glass puts it). So: Walter’s lover is one of Alan’s patients; Fenno, the owner of a local bookstore, befriends both Alan and Saga, a possibly homeless young woman with brain damage who volunteers in animal rescue – along with Walter’s dog-walker, who’s dating his nephew; and so on. The title refers to how migrating birds circumnavigate the globe but always find their way home, and the same is true of these characters: no matter how far they stray – even as Greenie and Alan separately reopen past romances – the City always pulls them back. My only real complaint about the novel is that it’s almost overstuffed: with great characters and their backstories, enticing subplots, and elements that seemed custom-made to appeal to me – baking, a restaurant, brain injury, the relatively recent history of the AIDS crisis, a secondhand bookstore, rescue dogs and cats, and much more. I especially loved the descriptions of multi-course meals and baking projects. Glass spins warm, effortless prose reminiscent of what I’ve read by Louise Miller and Carolyn Parkhurst. I will certainly read her first, best-known book, Three Junes, which won the National Book Award. I was also delighted to recall that I have her latest on my Kindle: A House Among the Trees, based on the life of Maurice Sendak. All told, this was quite the bargain entertainment at 95 cents! Two small warnings: 1) if you haven’t read Three Junes, try not to learn too much about it – Glass likes to use recurring characters, and even a brief blurb (like what’s on the final page of my paperback; luckily, I didn’t come across it until the end) includes a spoiler about one character. 2) Glass is deliberately coy about when her book is set, and it’s important to not know for as long as possible. So don’t glance at the Library of Congress catalog record, which gives it away. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I remember loving Glass' previous book, Three Junes, so was excited to finally get her newest novel from the library. And mad props to Glass, b/c it did not disappoint--even though it's mainly the story of a bunch of New Yorkers just before 9/11. It revolves mainly around four characters--Greenie, who is suddenly being wooed by the governor of New Mexico, who needs a personal chef; her husband, Alan, a failing shrink; her friend Walter, a flamboyant restaurateur who takes in his teenage nephew; I remember loving Glass' previous book, Three Junes, so was excited to finally get her newest novel from the library. And mad props to Glass, b/c it did not disappoint--even though it's mainly the story of a bunch of New Yorkers just before 9/11. It revolves mainly around four characters--Greenie, who is suddenly being wooed by the governor of New Mexico, who needs a personal chef; her husband, Alan, a failing shrink; her friend Walter, a flamboyant restaurateur who takes in his teenage nephew; and Saga, a woman damaged from a past accident. This novel--despite its length--is something to savor (and I'm not just saying that b/c of all the descriptions of desserts!). Glass really brings these characters and their world--from a corner of a Manhattan neighborhood to the sprawling deserts of New Mexico and beyond--to life, and even the minor characters are interesting and lovable (though the governor is something of a caricature). I give it an A, even though I had some mixed feelings about the ending, b/c the writing and characters are just that good.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I loved the descriptions of food in this book as the main character is a successful pastry chef in New York. I thought that the relationship between Greenie and her husband was interesting and several of the other characters in this book were really intriguing, especially Saga who is a survivor of a traumatic brain injury from a fluke accident. I felt, however, that the author included way too many characters and therefor didn't do them enough justice throughout the book. I get that she was tryi I loved the descriptions of food in this book as the main character is a successful pastry chef in New York. I thought that the relationship between Greenie and her husband was interesting and several of the other characters in this book were really intriguing, especially Saga who is a survivor of a traumatic brain injury from a fluke accident. I felt, however, that the author included way too many characters and therefor didn't do them enough justice throughout the book. I get that she was trying to demonstrate common threads in different types of relationships (gay, straight, marital, parental, extended family etc...) but it was just too much. I also didn't like the tragedy (don't want to give it away by saying what) that she includes at the end of the book. The enormity of that sort of overshadows everything else and takes away from the character relationships even more. I thought the descriptions of both New York and Santa Fe were fun and interesting. The characters in this book could have made up several more interesting novels rather than being all crammed into one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    bleh. what an annoying pile of drivel. what a disappointing read by the author of Three Junes, a book I very much loved! gah! i was just so utterly disinterested in the characters in this book and even less interested in what they were going to do next - probably nothing - oh, wait, maybe they'll mull and think and wring their hands and still do nothing or maybe they'll actually do something and.... still, nothing will happen as a result. the real icing on the cake was my realization in the last bleh. what an annoying pile of drivel. what a disappointing read by the author of Three Junes, a book I very much loved! gah! i was just so utterly disinterested in the characters in this book and even less interested in what they were going to do next - probably nothing - oh, wait, maybe they'll mull and think and wring their hands and still do nothing or maybe they'll actually do something and.... still, nothing will happen as a result. the real icing on the cake was my realization in the last 30 pages that the whole pathetic thing had been one long, annoying preamble to 9/11, going for the hollow attempt at an emotional denouement that fell awkwardly flat. had i not spent my own cash on this book, i would have considered revising my "i always finish a book" policy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Librarian

    As a former New Yorker now living in New Mexico, I could not resist this novel about a Greenwich Village chef (who lived around the corner from where I lived) who relocates to Santa Fe. Although the book was engaging enough for me to want to finish it, it never took off. The problem for me was that the main characters were never interesting enough to engage me with their marital problems. The lesser characters were more interesting but they were off stage more often than not. And as others have As a former New Yorker now living in New Mexico, I could not resist this novel about a Greenwich Village chef (who lived around the corner from where I lived) who relocates to Santa Fe. Although the book was engaging enough for me to want to finish it, it never took off. The problem for me was that the main characters were never interesting enough to engage me with their marital problems. The lesser characters were more interesting but they were off stage more often than not. And as others have written, the 9/11 bit seemed contrived and manipulative. Glass has clearly been to New Mexico and knows the place but the character of Ray never struck me as a believable governor. It was a shame because I liked him as a character but every time he opened his mouth, the implausibility shouted at me. He was way too Texan to be a convincing governor of NM. Glass could have made him a hotelier or even an executive assistant to the governor. That would have allowed him the same role in the plot while making him more credible and probably more compelling, too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    What luck to read two wonderful novels in a row. The more I read, the more finicky it seems I am becoming. Well, what initially drew me to this novel were the realistic characters that Julia Glass brings to life within the first few chapters. Greenie is a woman a bit lost in her sedated marriage. Walter, my favorite of the characters, is candid and quirky and someone I knew I could be friends with. He struggles in his search to find love. Saga is a sweet and naive character that needs to find he What luck to read two wonderful novels in a row. The more I read, the more finicky it seems I am becoming. Well, what initially drew me to this novel were the realistic characters that Julia Glass brings to life within the first few chapters. Greenie is a woman a bit lost in her sedated marriage. Walter, my favorite of the characters, is candid and quirky and someone I knew I could be friends with. He struggles in his search to find love. Saga is a sweet and naive character that needs to find her strength. Alan is the character that I did not immediately relate to but began to understand as the story progressed. These lives, and others, are woven into the pages of this novel. Some people sing in the shower. I however seem to think about whatever I am most currently reading. After finishing this beautiful, yet sad and wonderful story, I couldn't get it out of my head. As I showered, I realized that many of the characters in this book explore the idea of foresight and hindsight, at times related to superstition. One of the characters looks back on a failed relationship, asking what small things might have changed the outcome if done differently. Another character becomes superstitious, finding answers in minute details. For example, if it rains then my answer is "yes", if it does not rain my answer is "no". I suppose what I found most interesting about this concept was that the things they wished to change or looked to for answers were not major. No one mentioned the existential questions. The things they looked to were as simple as crossing the street or choosing rice instead of potatoes. This got me to thinking about the idea of fate. In hindsight, a million and one different possibilities can account for the way things turn out. By changing order or existance of those possibilities, one must wonder if the outcome remains the same? In recommending this book, I would also note that one should not read the description on the inside cover, as it gives to much away from the start. Simply pick it up and begin. Enjoy!! Side note... this book makes many references to coconut cake. If anyone has any good recipes for such a cake, please let me know. Cheers.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Printable Tire

    The local library was throwing out dozens of audio books so I took whichever ones had interesting blurbs or covers. I really liked the cover of this one. It's rather pleasant, wouldn't you say? As for the audiobook itself, I'm DISGUSTED it's abridged, as the story seems LONG ENOUGH and I can't imagine what more the book could contain. There is a nice tranquility to Denis O'Hare's reading, and I always marvel at how many separate voices can be inside of a person, but his voice for the character S The local library was throwing out dozens of audio books so I took whichever ones had interesting blurbs or covers. I really liked the cover of this one. It's rather pleasant, wouldn't you say? As for the audiobook itself, I'm DISGUSTED it's abridged, as the story seems LONG ENOUGH and I can't imagine what more the book could contain. There is a nice tranquility to Denis O'Hare's reading, and I always marvel at how many separate voices can be inside of a person, but his voice for the character Saga was pretty annoying- it reminded me of a drugged-out Keanu Reeves. There's some well written passages in this story, but I just can't say I found the story itself very interesting. Each character was just sort of boring in their own way, just unlikable or uninteresting enough that I didn't really care for any of them. Now, the pleasant sing-song qualities of Denis O'Hare's dulcet tones relating the dull existences of more or less forgettable characters for hours on hours, that I can get into, as a sort of meditative state, but as fiction it didn't particularly interest me. Most damning of all was the 3rd quarter exploitation of 9/11 as a plot device, an unseemly and lazy practice that was embarrassingly fashionable in quote-unquote "literary" novels at the time this one was published, circa mid last decade.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pei Pei

    Some great characters, strong moments, and skilled writing, but the whole never rose above, or even equaled, the sum of its parts. Much of it just didn't hold my attention or interest. I found the multiple narratives distracting and not particularly well done (I felt like the characters got unequal amounts of narration, but this might just be my perception because some were much more interesting to me than others) or illuminating. The intention behind this seemed to be to represent the intersect Some great characters, strong moments, and skilled writing, but the whole never rose above, or even equaled, the sum of its parts. Much of it just didn't hold my attention or interest. I found the multiple narratives distracting and not particularly well done (I felt like the characters got unequal amounts of narration, but this might just be my perception because some were much more interesting to me than others) or illuminating. The intention behind this seemed to be to represent the intersection of lives in a place like New York City, and to elevate the story to one of universal themes, but I found the lack of a central narrative thrust to be a great weakness. I never warmed to Greenie, which was problematic as she is pretty clearly meant to be the central figure in the book, but I eventually just skimmed her sections because I didn't really care. It was good to see Fenno again, but he seemed quite different from Three Junes. I found the dialogue throughout pretty stilted and inconsistent--Glass's strength is definitely much more in reflective interiority, as opposed to dialogue. I hope Glass's next book has one focal character, as I thought both this book and Three Junes (which I loved anyway) would have benefitted from Glass just throwing herself into one worthy character and trusting that character to carry us through the narrative. Or even just limiting herself to TWO narrators. Less is more.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    Who are you? Are you the same person you were when you were 17? Has being married changed you in a fundamental sense? Has parenthood? Has love or the lack of? These are the undercurrents of themes Julia Glass embroiders around her characters in "The Whole World Over," which is a great follow-up to "The Three Junes." In TWWO, Glass builds storylines around a handful of Manhattanites who are loosely connected through acquaintances and proximity in their neighborhood. In many ways, the c Who are you? Are you the same person you were when you were 17? Has being married changed you in a fundamental sense? Has parenthood? Has love or the lack of? These are the undercurrents of themes Julia Glass embroiders around her characters in "The Whole World Over," which is a great follow-up to "The Three Junes." In TWWO, Glass builds storylines around a handful of Manhattanites who are loosely connected through acquaintances and proximity in their neighborhood. In many ways, the cast of characters reminds me of those you'd see in a Maeve Binchy novel, except Glass is more nimble with place and time in her narrative, skipping forward and backward to flesh out particular nuances in character development as well as move the story forward with slogging the reader through a lot of dialogue. This isn't a high-end literary read, but it is well written, tightly constructed and smart. By the book's end, you care about these characters. My only complaint would be the heavyhanded use of nicknames among the characters to symbolize the morphing of identity. It gets a little overdone when at one point, a main character has tallied up not one or two, but four nicknames as she moves through the narrative. We get it. She's changed. Otherwise, I recommend adding this one to your summer reading list.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie

    It took me a long time to finish this book (2 times out of library). A story that begins in Greenwich Village. Greenie Duquette has a small bakery in the West Village that supplies pastries to restaurants, including that of her gay friend Walter. When Walter recommends Greenie to the governor of New Mexico, she seizes the chance to become the his pastry chef and to take a break from her marriage, a psychiatrist with a whole other set of problems. Taking their four-year-old son, George, with her, It took me a long time to finish this book (2 times out of library). A story that begins in Greenwich Village. Greenie Duquette has a small bakery in the West Village that supplies pastries to restaurants, including that of her gay friend Walter. When Walter recommends Greenie to the governor of New Mexico, she seizes the chance to become the his pastry chef and to take a break from her marriage, a psychiatrist with a whole other set of problems. Taking their four-year-old son, George, with her, Greenie leaves for New Mexico, while figures from her and Alan's pasts challenge their already strained marriage. To me, the best characters in this whole book was Saga, a 30-something woman who lost her memory in an accident – she is also a rescuer of animals; and Saga's Uncle Marsden, a Yale ecologist who takes care of her. The sections of Greenie’s doubts about love and fidelity were boring and I could not wait to see what Saga was doing. Seriously, an entire book about Saga would have enraptured me a bit more. Another book about people with too much money having poor personal lives. Wah, wahhhhhh Wah. (A bakery in the Village? ….uh huh…right.). Book #45 of my 2006 Book List, finished reading it on 9-26-06.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mum

    I read/listened to this. The narrator was not great at all. She was so-o-o-o-o-o slo-o-o-o-o-o-o-w. The book? Meh. I read it because it followed up on some characters from The Three Junes which was maybe a bit better for me. There were a bunch of intertwined narratives of people who spent a lot of time shining and who were way more introspective than was interesting. There was only one character I remotely cared for so I finished the book to see what, if anything, happened to her. I t I read/listened to this. The narrator was not great at all. She was so-o-o-o-o-o slo-o-o-o-o-o-o-w. The book? Meh. I read it because it followed up on some characters from The Three Junes which was maybe a bit better for me. There were a bunch of intertwined narratives of people who spent a lot of time shining and who were way more introspective than was interesting. There was only one character I remotely cared for so I finished the book to see what, if anything, happened to her. I think overall that Julia Glass isn't really an author that I would fall in love with and read all of her books. But that's me. YMMV.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    ”Greenie was thrown off by the way in which the caller addressed her – for Charlotte Greenaway Duquette had an assortment of names, each of which identified the user as belonging to a particular period of her past.” p. 12 It has been many years since I read Three Junes by Glass. I had enjoyed that novel and my book group had a good discussion. So as I was packing for my beach books, (twice as many books as I could possibly read) I threw this one in the pile. It turns out the cover is a bit misle ”Greenie was thrown off by the way in which the caller addressed her – for Charlotte Greenaway Duquette had an assortment of names, each of which identified the user as belonging to a particular period of her past.” p. 12 It has been many years since I read Three Junes by Glass. I had enjoyed that novel and my book group had a good discussion. So as I was packing for my beach books, (twice as many books as I could possibly read) I threw this one in the pile. It turns out the cover is a bit misleading. Although Greenie is a baker, bread is not her only specialty. Now that I have finished the book, I would put a big cake on the cover. It is remarkable how time changes things or at least has changed me. This book was published in 2006 and at that point in time any contemporary novel set in New York City was likely to deal with the disaster at the Twin Towers – 9-11. Seven years ago I wrote in a review that I was uncomfortable reading about 9-11. However, I picked this novel up and did not even think about the possibility of that scenario. It wasn’t until I was part way through the story that I realized that that national tragedy was going to play a part in it. That does not make me sorry that I picked up this book. It was interesting to look back on that time from almost fifteen years. I am glad that I met Greenie and her family, that I met Walter and his dog that I spent some time in the New Mexico governor’s mansion and I am especially happy to have met Saga who I found fascinating. What does make me less than thrilled with this novel is that I felt there were a lot of loose ends. I wanted to know what happened to some of the characters and I wanted to know that Greenie had grown from all her experiences. It may be that Glass had too many storylines or characters, but I ended the book feeling lost. I recommend this to readers who like sprawling stories with lots of people and a lot of questions at the end.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Brown

    This is the first book I've read by this author and I'm not sure if I'll try another. I actually stopped reading the book half way through so that I could read another book and a novella that had become available from my local library. This is not normal behavior for me. Usually, I get so wrapped up in a story that I have to reach the end, or at the very least I push myself through, even though I might be struggling with a story. The concept of this story, the everyday lives and struggles of peo This is the first book I've read by this author and I'm not sure if I'll try another. I actually stopped reading the book half way through so that I could read another book and a novella that had become available from my local library. This is not normal behavior for me. Usually, I get so wrapped up in a story that I have to reach the end, or at the very least I push myself through, even though I might be struggling with a story. The concept of this story, the everyday lives and struggles of people who's lives over lap in small circles is interesting. Each persons story, as it relates specifically to them and their growth, was somewhat intriguing. The part that I struggled with was the small thread by which all of the characters were somehow connected. I felt as though the story of Greenie, Alan and their small son George, should have been a book unto itself, but was lacking the weight to do so, thus the additional stories of friends and their friends intertwined. The execution of the story telling was, in my opinion poor, leapfrog or jumping from one persons story to anothers. Lacking flow and at times making me wonder if we were flashing forward or back in the lives of the characters. I truly struggled with both Greenie and Alan as main characters, they were both selfish and overly flawed to be a true hero or heroine. Some of the characters, Walter in particular, were fun and entertaining to read. I think that I would have enjoyed his story as a stand alone book. His character had a very vibrant personality and sense of humor. While the internal and family struggles of Emily a.k.a. Saga, were moving, there wasn't enough detail in her story. Again, my impression was this was a story concept joined with another to provide enough volume for a "book"

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This was the most wonderful book. Julia Glass writes lyrical, evocative, and yet precise prose, the type I most love. Here is an excerpt from the book (not representative of the plot but rather her style) that I have read over and over again, risking a library fine: "When she fed him during the day, her body felt as if it had been made to ensconce a nursing baby the way a saddle was molded to carry a rider--the crevice between her thighs a perfect seat for George's bottom, her waist c This was the most wonderful book. Julia Glass writes lyrical, evocative, and yet precise prose, the type I most love. Here is an excerpt from the book (not representative of the plot but rather her style) that I have read over and over again, risking a library fine: "When she fed him during the day, her body felt as if it had been made to ensconce a nursing baby the way a saddle was molded to carry a rider--the crevice between her thighs a perfect seat for George's bottom, her waist calibrated to support his flexed knees, and later on, his arm as he rhythmically kneaded her back. The remarkable, unexpected thing was not that the baby yearned for the breast but that the breast seemed to literally yearn toward the baby. At night, she'd take him from Alan, or from his cradle, without turning on a light, and she would guide him carefully toward her right breast, the one George liked best. He would appear to search for only a second or two, and then his mouth became a tiny heat-seeking missile. Gasping, she would feel the magnetic draw on every duct, like dozens of reins pulled tight from behind her rib cage. George drank intensely and fell asleep still joined to her breast. She'd insert the tip of her pinkie at the edge of his mouth, and when his head rolled away, milk would spill across his cheek like sugar glaze poured across a rose-colored cake. Her left breast, ignored, would often ache until morning."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ric

    Julia Glass' book "The Whole World Over" celebrates/honors relationships with family and friends in age of post 9/11. Taking place a year and half before 9/11, Glass weaves together a tale about Greenie and Alan, a couple with one son, whose marriage is on the rocks; Walter, a sassy gay restaurateur and Greenie's best friend; and Saga, a drifting woman who loves animals and has suffered from a terrible accident. Fenno McLeod, the center of the triptych of "Three Junes," appears throughout this n Julia Glass' book "The Whole World Over" celebrates/honors relationships with family and friends in age of post 9/11. Taking place a year and half before 9/11, Glass weaves together a tale about Greenie and Alan, a couple with one son, whose marriage is on the rocks; Walter, a sassy gay restaurateur and Greenie's best friend; and Saga, a drifting woman who loves animals and has suffered from a terrible accident. Fenno McLeod, the center of the triptych of "Three Junes," appears throughout this new work as a supporting yet important character. It is a long book (500 pages) and I often found myself drawn to the supporting characters more than Greenie and Alan, but Glass’ prose is like walking into a lake and feeling the water on your feet on an early summer morning. Glass' entire book is about the normal relationships we draw our self into every day, and how our own emotional relationships seem trivial when we witness tragedy. Glass also shows you that each connection can create purpose, strengthen identity, and lead you to a new relationships. At the end you will thank her for introducing the characters to you, and even reminding you that nothing is as important as family, friends, strangers the whole world over.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    My friend Kelly said she liked the "real world" feel of this book, and I agree. I especially liked how Glass was able to write about all different kinds of people with sympathy and an even hand: a southwestern Republican governor/rancher, a gay New York restaurant owner, environmental activists, ranch cooks and cowboys, New York liberals, a brain-injured animal rescuer, a doddering old professor, a Wall Street stock trader, spinster sisters, people in happy committed relationships, people in unh My friend Kelly said she liked the "real world" feel of this book, and I agree. I especially liked how Glass was able to write about all different kinds of people with sympathy and an even hand: a southwestern Republican governor/rancher, a gay New York restaurant owner, environmental activists, ranch cooks and cowboys, New York liberals, a brain-injured animal rescuer, a doddering old professor, a Wall Street stock trader, spinster sisters, people in happy committed relationships, people in unhappy marriages. She raises a lot of interesting questions, but doesn't necessarily provide the answers. Kind of like life in general. However, I didn't enjoy switching between so many different narrators, especially since some of them were so loosely connected to one another. I wasn't sure why these four completely different storylines belonged in the same book. And toward the end of the novel, it seemed to me that Glass just got tired of writing so she quickly wrapped up a few loose ends and just stopped the story there.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    A novel by the author of "Three Junes," and for which I traded a Vanity Fair and "The Stone Diaries" so I'd have it for plane reading back from the Congo. As with "Three Junes," Julia Glass has created a story of interlocking characters all pursuing happiness as best they can. Glass is talented at creating likable people facing identifiable crises: I went from story to story rooting for the people involved (main characters: Greenie the pastry chef, her depressed psychotherapist husband Alan whom A novel by the author of "Three Junes," and for which I traded a Vanity Fair and "The Stone Diaries" so I'd have it for plane reading back from the Congo. As with "Three Junes," Julia Glass has created a story of interlocking characters all pursuing happiness as best they can. Glass is talented at creating likable people facing identifiable crises: I went from story to story rooting for the people involved (main characters: Greenie the pastry chef, her depressed psychotherapist husband Alan whom she is debating leaving, her good friend Walter who owns a restaurant, the larger-than-life governor of New Mexico and -- from "Three Junes" -- bookstore owner Fenno McLeod, in a supporting role.) However, I think that the book is too long and has too many strands to it. Although some story lines are unexpectedly rich -- the character of Saga annoyed me at first but her story became quite compelling -- in the end there is an overabundance of people one is expected to know and care about. "The Whole World Over" is a great 300 page book spread over 500 pages.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I am on page 393 of this 507-page book and the only reason I'm finishing it is because I kept reading, thinking maybe the story would go somewhere...where it should go?? In the trash, fireplace or any similar place!! The storyline is all over the place, the characters and their dialogue is ANNOYING (brought me back to when I used to see episodes of Dawson's Creek and thought, who the hell talks like that!) and the writing style is just plain stupid (for lack of a better term). This is the worst I am on page 393 of this 507-page book and the only reason I'm finishing it is because I kept reading, thinking maybe the story would go somewhere...where it should go?? In the trash, fireplace or any similar place!! The storyline is all over the place, the characters and their dialogue is ANNOYING (brought me back to when I used to see episodes of Dawson's Creek and thought, who the hell talks like that!) and the writing style is just plain stupid (for lack of a better term). This is the worst author I've come across in a while! So please all you readers out there: stay away from this book..507 pages of my life that I can't get back!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katrin

    Why was this book even written? I slogged through all 500 pages and still have no idea! The friend who loaned it to me found it pleasant reading and really liked the author's other book, Three Junes - obviously that's the one to read. The story wandered all over the place, and I didn't care about any of the characters or the foolish choices they made. I didn't hate it - just found it a waste of time. K.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    Took me a few minutes to get into it but I ultimately enjoyed her observations, the exploration of relationships, and her wonderfully brief descriptions: "The sun faced precisely down the center of the street. Her shadow, when she looked backwards, was long and elegant..." I have seen my own shadow like that and "elegant" is exactly the right word, but I never would have thought of it. She does this throughout the book, and I wished I'd marked more of them - puts two simple words together which Took me a few minutes to get into it but I ultimately enjoyed her observations, the exploration of relationships, and her wonderfully brief descriptions: "The sun faced precisely down the center of the street. Her shadow, when she looked backwards, was long and elegant..." I have seen my own shadow like that and "elegant" is exactly the right word, but I never would have thought of it. She does this throughout the book, and I wished I'd marked more of them - puts two simple words together which are so visual or conceptual within their brevity. But Glass is mostly examining the psychological behavior of her characters. Although I did not particularly connect to any of them, I did often to what they were thinking. In observing her husband and comparing him to her lover: "She recognized his neat handwriting, his straight columns. In his precise way of doing things, he wasn't unlike Charlie, yet they were so different, Charlie so much more expansive, someone who looked ever outward. She wished that she and Charlie had been together long enough that some of the things she admired and loved about him had become cause for irritation - that his ardent resourcefulness had come to seem like rigidity, his sense of adventure like restlessness; that his playfulness could look immature, his lack of sentimentality cold instead of wise." I also recognized her description of her friends: "The conversation at the dinner party was dense and eccentric, the talk of friends who no longer need the ordinary every day topics. The rich food led them to talk about the diets of vultures, parrots and Aztec kings; parrots and kings led them to to the future of zoos and elections. In smaller groups, they rhapsodized about Shakespeare's sonnets, laughed at Schwarzenegger's political ambitions, marveled at how C.S Lewis found God..." Reminds me of my own dinner parties wit friends - ADHD, the lot of us. It's a long book, 500 pages, but I liked it well enough to seek out her "Three Junes."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Once again Julia Glass won me over with her characters. I loved her previous novel, Three Junes, and The Whole World Over, was just as great. The Whole World Over follows four characters. Greenie and Alan are a married couple going through a rough patch; Saga is learning to become independent again after a bad accident; and Walter is going through the agonies of raising a teenage nephew. Their lives all interconnect at points but their stories are independent. Julia Glass' novels are Once again Julia Glass won me over with her characters. I loved her previous novel, Three Junes, and The Whole World Over, was just as great. The Whole World Over follows four characters. Greenie and Alan are a married couple going through a rough patch; Saga is learning to become independent again after a bad accident; and Walter is going through the agonies of raising a teenage nephew. Their lives all interconnect at points but their stories are independent. Julia Glass' novels are always character driven rather than plot driven, so if you are looking for a huge climax or a lot of action you are in the wrong place. Instead, she beautifully shows the tangled life we all lead. Greenie and Alan's marriage is not perfect but it feels real. What you used to love now is annoying or worse--boring. Saga is a very interesting and compelling character. She had an accident where she was hit on the head and her memory and some skills (e.g., vocabulary, numbers) were damaged. Since then she has lived with her uncle. She is struggling to overcome her injuries and learn how to lead an independent life regardless of her injuries. She was probably my favorite character for all her complexities and genuine kindness. Walter is one of Greenie's friends. He falls in love with a man who is in another relationship. He also decides to bring his nephew to live with him. Walter's story was the most over the place but he was equally as likable. There is a slight connection between this novel and Three Junes. Both books take place on the same street and some of the characters (e.g., Fenno) are in both novels, but this novel isn't really a sequel. The title refers to the idea that you can travel the whole world and yet you always find your way home (like migratory birds). The story is set around 2000-2001 and 9/11 is the climax where the characters are shocked into coming to terms with their lives. I really enjoyed this novel and I can't wait to read more by Julia Glass.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eliza

    6/6/2013: I don't know why I plowed all the way through this novel. I don't really like Julia Glass, and I chose it only because I had a car trip coming up and I was sure that a Glass novel would be the right speed for listening while driving. (SWIDT?) But I didn't realize how long it was when I began--I would have had to head for Timbuktu to get through it!--so why did I trade in the CDs for the book at the library? TWWO is, perhaps not surprisingly given its title, ambitious in its 6/6/2013: I don't know why I plowed all the way through this novel. I don't really like Julia Glass, and I chose it only because I had a car trip coming up and I was sure that a Glass novel would be the right speed for listening while driving. (SWIDT?) But I didn't realize how long it was when I began--I would have had to head for Timbuktu to get through it!--so why did I trade in the CDs for the book at the library? TWWO is, perhaps not surprisingly given its title, ambitious in its reach. Its characters grapple with their limitations; the damage inflicted on them in their past lives and that they inflict on those they love; the mistakes they make and arguments they make to justify their bad behavior; and the immense obstacles that life throws at them. Some of Glass's characters are sympathetic and compelling despite their screwups; some are just grating. Some of her situations are pitch perfect, some seem engineered to illustrate a point, and some are just ridiculous. Some of the writing is poignant and sharp, some is mechanical, designed just to get us to the next point or character. Yet I was most frustrated not by annoying characters or lackluster narrative, but by the unfinished quality of certain situations that Glass introduces and then abandons. Tell me more about Greenie's mother! About Diego! About Stephen's success or failure! About Saga and her cousins! Glass approaches some thorny and powerful issues, universal and yet also topical and specific, but seems to lose her nerve as she tries to plumb them, to parse them, to fully confront them. I suppose I was hoping all the way to the end for that confrontation--but I was disappointed. Glass doesn't supply enough answers, or even follow-up--her ending is much too neatly tied in a bow, but leaves many questions unanswered--but perhaps it was still worth it for me to have those issues framed in the first place. Glass does "get" the messiness of life, and I will always find that a powerful draw. I just wish she was a better novelist.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Courtenay

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm really glad I didn't read the jacket of this book before reading the book itself, because I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much if I'd known going in that the narrative would culminate on September 11, 2001. As in her other books, Julia Glass focuses on several characters whose lives intersect and writes each chapter from the point of view of a different character. 75% of the book tells a story that is, on its own, absorbing: a long-married couple at an impasse over infidelity and differen I'm really glad I didn't read the jacket of this book before reading the book itself, because I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much if I'd known going in that the narrative would culminate on September 11, 2001. As in her other books, Julia Glass focuses on several characters whose lives intersect and writes each chapter from the point of view of a different character. 75% of the book tells a story that is, on its own, absorbing: a long-married couple at an impasse over infidelity and different career arcs, a gay restauranteur in his 40s trying to find love and mentor his punk nephew, a young girl with a brain injury caring for animals and dealing with her family. But then the reader notices that the author is taking care to give clues about time: there are fleeting references to the 2000 election, and then the months tick away in 2001, and then it's "Monday," and then, of course, it's Tuesday. A beautiful Tuesday under sunny blue skies. 9/11 has been so politicized in the years since it happened that it's easy to forget how that day felt. This book summed it up better than anything I've read: we were all absorbed with our own lives, and everything we were going through felt very, very important. And then it was Tuesday. A truly lovely read. I might upgrade this one to five stars at some point if it sticks with me the way I think it will.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    I could give this book a three or a four star rating depending on the time of day or the month, or the year. It takes place in New York and New Mexico. Greenie (Charlotte Greenway Duquette) is a pastry chef married to Alan, a failing psychotherapist, for 10 years. They have a four-year old son whom they both adore. Greenie is unsure of her marriage and is enticed to take a job as the New Mexiocan governor's pastry chef in Sante Fe. Governor Ray McCrae is a "big" character, perhaps overblown, but I could give this book a three or a four star rating depending on the time of day or the month, or the year. It takes place in New York and New Mexico. Greenie (Charlotte Greenway Duquette) is a pastry chef married to Alan, a failing psychotherapist, for 10 years. They have a four-year old son whom they both adore. Greenie is unsure of her marriage and is enticed to take a job as the New Mexiocan governor's pastry chef in Sante Fe. Governor Ray McCrae is a "big" character, perhaps overblown, but fun to imagine. Walter is a gay restaurant owner who is Greenie's friend. His life and his partner's are part of the 500 page novel. Most interesting to me was the character Sags who has suffered from a brain injury and whose life gets intertwined with other characters related in some way to Greenie or Walter. I can't say this is a must read novel, but it was enjoyable to read at times, and at other times dragged on. I would like to read Glass "Three Junes."

  26. 5 out of 5

    DilanAc

    I really liked this the first time I read it, except for the ending which I agree with most readers was contrived and shoved in like a deus ex machina. However, on a re-read, I am feeling slightly bored. The language is not strong enough to merit a second reading. I am not discovering anything new as I usually do with a rereading of most very good books. Great books I can read 20 times and still be held mesmerized. Still I look forward to reading anything else Glass writes. She is certainly a st I really liked this the first time I read it, except for the ending which I agree with most readers was contrived and shoved in like a deus ex machina. However, on a re-read, I am feeling slightly bored. The language is not strong enough to merit a second reading. I am not discovering anything new as I usually do with a rereading of most very good books. Great books I can read 20 times and still be held mesmerized. Still I look forward to reading anything else Glass writes. She is certainly a story teller. The consensus among Shelfari readers is correct. Saga's story is by far the most interesting, especially the second time around.

  27. 4 out of 5

    bookczuk

    This is dense and delicious book, like a one of those chocolate cakes, "Death by Chocolate" or "Torta di Cioccolato", or something French with raspberries around the edges. Definitely layered, and definitely scrumptious. I hadn't fully realized the time period in which it was set, but a reference to Windows on the World suddenly had me shifting my dread (for I anticipated something big happening) from a looming heart attack of a character to something much bigger and darker.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    After I read Three Junes, I was really looking forward to another book by Glass. I have to admit I'm disappointed. The story was okay, but it just lacked the connection and magic of Three Junes. Two reasons - the characters change their minds for nonsensical reasons, leaving them all feeling fake instead of genuine. And throwing in 9/11 as the catalyst was just not very believable. I liked it more when there wasn't anything specifically life-altering, just people living normal lives. Upping the After I read Three Junes, I was really looking forward to another book by Glass. I have to admit I'm disappointed. The story was okay, but it just lacked the connection and magic of Three Junes. Two reasons - the characters change their minds for nonsensical reasons, leaving them all feeling fake instead of genuine. And throwing in 9/11 as the catalyst was just not very believable. I liked it more when there wasn't anything specifically life-altering, just people living normal lives. Upping the ante didn't work for her writing style, I'm sad to say.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    I like the way Julia Glass writes. She envelops you in her characters such that you feel closer to the story than just reading words on a page. Three Junes, her first book, was a delight. It had all the elements of a good book, and even though, I wondered at times where she was going, she tied it together well in the end. The Whole World Over had the same good character development and writing style, but had a less satisfying plot--it wandered a bit and left me with an ending I was indifferent t I like the way Julia Glass writes. She envelops you in her characters such that you feel closer to the story than just reading words on a page. Three Junes, her first book, was a delight. It had all the elements of a good book, and even though, I wondered at times where she was going, she tied it together well in the end. The Whole World Over had the same good character development and writing style, but had a less satisfying plot--it wandered a bit and left me with an ending I was indifferent to.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kellyjane

    I like the "real world" feel of this book. None of the characters really know how they are supposed to act when situations come up that throw their lives into disarray. Glass follows several characters through a time period when they have to make decisions that will change the course of life and love - and none of the characters is perfect. It is a bit annoying at points to switch between characters, a device I have never loved, but it kept me reading (and guessing!). Glass has talent for explor I like the "real world" feel of this book. None of the characters really know how they are supposed to act when situations come up that throw their lives into disarray. Glass follows several characters through a time period when they have to make decisions that will change the course of life and love - and none of the characters is perfect. It is a bit annoying at points to switch between characters, a device I have never loved, but it kept me reading (and guessing!). Glass has talent for exploring human relationships, definitely.

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