In the interest of full disclosure, I loved JULIA GLASS’s previous two novels: her National Book Award-winning debut, THREE JUNES and the follow-up, THE WHOLE WORLD OVER. So when I saw an advance copy of her latest, I SEE YOU EVERYWHERE on a co-worker’s desk, I snatched it when no one was looking.
After the jump, the first page of Ms. Glass’s latest courtesy of PANTHEON BOOKS, along with the final verdict on whether I decide to keep reading.
Swim to the Middle
I avoid reunions. I’m not a rebel, a recluse, or a sociopath, and I’m too young to qualify as a crank, even if it’s true that I just spent the evening of my twenty-fifth birthday not carousing with friends or drinking champagne at a candlelit table for two but resolutely alone and working, glazing a large ovoid porcelain bowl while listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing songs by the Gershwin brothers. (A crank could never love Gershwin.) My one real boyfriend in college, just before we broke up, told me I’m nostalgic to a fault. He professed contempt for what he called “the delusional sound track to our parents’ deluded lives.” He informed me that you can’t be nostalgic for things that had their heyday before you were so much as born. Just about any member of my family would have laughed him out the door and down the garden path.
Family reunions are the worst-all that competition disguised as fellowship-and they’re also the hardest to avoid. But when my father’s Great-Aunt Lucy died last summer, there was an inheritance at stake, a collection of antique jewelry. Not the glossy priceless stuff-no diamonds, tiaras, or niagaras of pearls. Not things you’d sell but things so deliciously old-fashioned and stylish that to wear them makes you feel like a character from a Jane Austen novel or a Chekhov play. The one piece I remembered most vividly was a cameo, two inches square, ivory on steel-blue Pacific coral, a woman’s face inclined toward her hand, in her slender fingers an iris. Aunt Lucy had worn that cameo day and night, winter and summer, on lace and wool. Maybe she’d left us a charm bracelet, maybe earrings of garnet or Mexican silver, but mostly I wondered about that cameo.
And wanted it. I’d wanted it since I was a little girl.
My reaction: As a hedonist, I’m not feeling our narrator, Louise Jardine. The eldest of the two sisters that this story follows, the book jacket describes her as “the conscientious student, precise and careful: the one who yearns for a good marriage, an artistic career, a family.” Boring.
The yet to be introduced Clem, the “archetypal youngest” and family favorite, sounds much more promising. As the sensibility to Louise’s sense, I’m guessing that she’ll make her sister look less wet blanket and more martyr by contrast.
The verdict: Of course I’ll keep reading. You can’t reject a tale about a 25-year relationship until you’ve met both characters and watched them interact. Plus, the semi-autobiographical element to this latest work has piqued my interest as a Glass devotee.