June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore is a novel that tests the reader’s patience. I kept waiting for resolution of Cassie’s dilemma, but she lacked the will to move, lying in bed in her recently inherited dilapidated mansion. Fresh from New York City where she had a disappointing showing of her photograph work, Cassie is too careless and depressed to pick up her camera. She does keep framing shots in her mind in spite of grieving the death of her grandmother, June.
every depression a little sunlight must shine, and in Cassie’s case it
comes in the sensations of sound and light, a knock on the door on a
sunny day. I expected a rapid turnaround for Cassie but the pace of the
novel did not change much with the arrival at her door of a young man
approximately Cassie’s age with news about her inheritance. Nick has
interesting information that may be life changing for the twenty-five year
old recluse living in the small rural town of St. Jude, Ohio.
had a personal history unknown to her granddaughter that included a
brush with the bright lights and glamour of 1950s Hollywood. Famous star
Jack Montgomery had come to St. Jude then to shoot part of a movie, and
for some mysterious reason Cassie was now the recipient of a hidden
legacy. Now I was hooked and settled into the slow-paced unfolding of
The novel is presented in chapters alternating
between 1955 and 2015, between June’s young hopeful life and Cassie’s
continuing depressive symptoms. I found that I could only read for a
short time, an hour at most. After that, when confronted with a new
chapter, I put the novel down and looked for other things to do. But
patiently, I always looked forward to coming back to June.
current saying goes, reading June is not for everyone. The novel is
very well-written in the style of good historical novels. The mystery of
the novel is in the relationships between characters, both blood and
friendship, that create complex patterns of behavior over the decades.
Beverly-Wittemore's post-ironic writing is wonderful in her character
development and realistic depiction of life past and present in a small
isolated Midwestern town. The careful patient reader will be rewarded by
very good reading experiences in the 400 page novel.