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 fouryearold 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 Walters restaurant that the visiting governor of New Mexico tastes Greenies coconut cake and decides to woo her away from the city to be his chef. For reasons both ambitious and desperate, she acceptsand finds herself heading west without her husband. This impulsive decision will change the course of several lives within and beyond Greenies 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 madeor 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.
A Piece of Cake
The call came on the twenty-ninth of February: the one day in four years
when, according to antiquated custom, women may openly choose their partners
without shame. As Greenie checked her e-mail at work that morning, a small pink
box popped up on the screen: Carpe diem, ladies! Scotland, according to her
cheery, avuncular service provider, passed a law in 1288 that if a man refused a
womans proposal on this day, he must pay a fine: anything from a kiss to money
that would buy her a silk dress or a fancy pair of gloves.
If I werent hitched already, thought Greenie, I would gladly take rejection in exchange for a lovely silk dress. Oh for the quiet, sumptuous ease of a silk dress; oh for the weather in which to wear it!
Yet again it was sleeting. Greenie felt as if it had been sleeting for a week. The sidewalks of Bank Street, tricky enough in their skewed antiquity, were now glazed with ice, so that walking George to school had ...
If Julia Glass had limited her second novel to just the central story of patisserie owner, Greenie, and her psychologist husband, Alan, she would not have held my interest; but like Anthony Trollope (or for that matter, his granddaughter, Joanna), Glass's strength is in the way she weaves the threads of many people's stories into a colorful quilt that shows family life in all its shapes and sizes. If you're in the market for a story to warm the cockles of your heart, this might well be it.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Julia Glass's first novel, Three Junes, won the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction. Her fiction has been honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, three Nelson Algren Fiction Awards, the Tobias Wolff Award, and the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Medal for Best Novella. She spent the 2004-2005 academic year as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, where she finished The Whole World Over. She is a longtime New Yorker who now lives in Massachusetts with her ...
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