Friday, November 1, 2013
Published June 2007 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Source: my personal copy
Greenie Duquette lavishes most of her passionate energy on her Greenwich Village bakery and her young son. Her husband, Alan, seems to have fallen into a midlife depression, while Walter, her closest professional ally, is nursing a broken heart. At Walter’s restaurant, the visiting governor of New Mexico tastes Greenie’s coconut cake and decides to woo her away to be his chef. For reasons both ambitious and desperate, she accepts–heading west without her husband. This impulsive decision, along with events beyond Greenie’s control, will change the course of several lives around her.
This is my third Julia Glass novel. It's actually quite rare for me to read three books by any one author - Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Stephen King among the exceptions. What do they all have in common? I liked their books. It would stand to reason then, wouldn't it, that I like Julia Glass' books? Yeah, well, I don't. The Whole World Over convinced me of that. After I See You Everywhere I thought I should give Glass another chance. After all, The Three Junes is an award-winning novel. And it was better but I didn't love it.
The only reason I picked up The Whole World Over was because if was $2 on audio at my local library sale and I wondered if listening to Glass might make me enjoy her books more. Instead, just the opposite proved true.Greenie Duquette lives in New York City. Her family is from the east coast. She is wooed away to New Mexico by the man who is the governor of that state. Yet, curiously, narrator Denis O'Hare decided that several of the characters should have Southern accents. It was like nails on a chalkboard for me to hear those characters speak. Greenie and Alan have a precocious son, smart beyond his years. But between O'Hare's narration and Glass' characterization, I found this kid to be ridiculously annoying.
Glass, from my experience, writes all of her novels from multiple points of view. I generally don't have a problem with that, not even when it isn't always apparent at first how the stories tie together. In The Whole World Over the connection between the characters is quite clear. What's less clear is why the stories are relevant to each other. The publisher's summary says that Greenie's decision will change the course of several lives around her. Yet, that didn't entirely seem to be true. Because she had left her husband, Alan, behind, he did end up meeting Saga, someone he probably would not have met otherwise. But she didn't really seem to have any great impact on his life and her story line added nothing to the rest of the novel.
And that name, Saga? Yeah, that grated on my nerves, too. I know that not every characters can be named Jane, or Mary, or Emily. Oh what, that actually IS Saga's real name. There's a silly little story to explain how she came to have that nickname that really didn't seem adequate. Alan's sister's name is Joya. And Greenie's name isn't even Greenie. It's just one of the many nicknames she's had in her life.
The publisher says Glass is at her best yet with The Whole World Over. If this is the best she's got, and after having been disappointed by all three of her novels, I have definitely read my last novel by Glass. She just doesn't work for me; it just feels like she's trying too hard to do too much.