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‘The Whole World Over’ by Julia Glass

(Random House, $36.99)I loved Julia Glass’ first novel, The Three Junes, so I was thrilled to find this at the book store and snapped it up immediately. Although snapped it up might be the wrong way of putting it. At more than 500 pages, in the bigger format, this is a very heavy book. Am I the only person who struggles with these? Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to make books so clunky. You have to like what’s in them a whole lot more than what’s in a lighter book because you’re going to that much more effort.

I swear there were some nights when I looked at The Whole World over and wondered if I had it in me to hoist it off the floor and hold it up in bed (my favourite reading spot). Anyway, despite the ooS, I got there in the end.

Greenie Duquette is a pastry chef living in oanhattan with her four-year-old son, George, and irritating husband, Alan, when her coconut cake captures the taste buds of the visiting governor of New Mexico. The charismatic governor soon lures Greenie out to Sante Fe to cook for him, leaving Alan alone in New York to pull himself together.

As Greenie whips up a treat out west, her friend Walter continues to run his restaurant and drafts in his teenage nephew, whom he thinks he can deal with better than his brother can. Then there’s Saga, a brain-injured young woman struggling with her dependency on an ageing uncle, and Fenno, a lonely Scottish bookseller who first appeared in The Three Junes.

As the publisher says, Julia Glass weaves “a glorious tapestry of lives and lifetimes” that in this case culminates in the fall of the Twin Towers. The book is worth picking up on these grounds alone and it really does come together beautifully at the end.

But I wondered at times if the tapestry perhaps had too many colours, and I’m not sure I liked the palette. on occasion, I wanted less of Greenie, more of the governor, nothing of George and bucket-loads of Walter. But that could be the ooS speaking.

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