The Whole World Over by Julia Glass

Posted on June 30, 2009. Filed under: Books, Personal Reviews |

My first impression upon finishing this book was that it was  nothing more than average. It peaked halfway through the story and then sank to predictability. The characters are pretty well developed and offer quite a few different personalities, but at times it is overwhelming how many people go by more than one name leaving you wondering exactly which character you’re reading about now. I don’t know if this is a book I would recommend but if someone offers it to you give it an open mind and maybe the story will spin you in a different direction.

Greenie, or Charlie, or Charlotte owns a bake shop that produces some desserts that are to die for in downtown NYC. Greenie’s life is predictable but in a charming way – there are the same customers, the same family and the same friends that she’s accustomed to. Her world is suddenly turned upside down when the Governor of New Mexico sweeps in and insists upon her services at his mansion and ranch in New Mexico, this is where the story gets good. Should Greenie go, should she stay, should her family accompany her? In the end she makes a great decision – thinks on a whim and hits the road. Her son accompanies her but her husband is left behind in New York to join them as soon as possible.

In New Mexico the story really kicks up. The cast of characters we meet and grow to love in New Mexico really make the tale worthwhile in some aspects. The Governor, his driver, his ranch chef and his assistant seem like a marvelous bunch of friends that you have known your entire life. It’s easy to love them and their laid back ways, and it truly seems like Greenie  fits in with them easily. Back in New York lives are getting tangled up with our remaining characters.

Greenie’s charming Gay friend, Walter sets up for a fun summer he hopes to be filled with love, family and laughter. Another character named Saga, or Emily, takes center stage for a few chapters filling us in about her life of saving animals and discovering herself and the memories she’s lost. Saga is involved with Greenie’s husband through a dog that he adopted. To make life even more twisted Saga is connected to Walter through a bookstore she works at who’s owner is Walter’s friend. This is where the book lost interest for me. I know the world is small and that these crazy connections happen but it is just all too strange how inter-weaved these characters were and really didn’t notice. It truly seemed to irritate me that they rarely mentioned knowing, seeing, being with the other person who shared this bond when they weren’t with that person.

The book ends with the September 11th Attacks on the World Trade Center. Having been from NY myself I know that this day was important and tragic to say the least, but it seemed that the author was using this almost as a scape-goat to get her characters back to the places she wanted them to be. It was an easy way out from my perspective. I didn’t like how she used the emotions from that day to manipulate the reader and the characters.

My biggest gripe with the story was that the characters were almost too developed, to the point that they each had multiple chapters but as I previously mentioned rarely were weaved back into the other character’s tales. The author did use Greenie in Alan (her husband’s chapters) and vice versa but Saga was rarely in Walter’s chapters and vice versa which was frustrating. Each of these characters (more or less) could have had their own book solely on their story, this was a consolidated tale of quite a few different people with little to do with each other but happened to end up together. I enjoyed the middle of the book, the meat and potatoes of the story so to speak. I felt that it was exciting, it was new, the characters were taking chances but then once the disaster struck life went back to normal and everyone returned to their safe routines, and that isn’t quite as much fun to read about. In the end I was happy that the book had ended and I could move on.


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