The Whole World Over

Published By: Pantheon

Book Category: Fiction,

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Reviewed by Beth Cummings

(also available as CD-rom)

Greenie Duquette is the wife of a New York City psychiatrist, the mother of a four-year-old son, and perhaps most importantly, the owner of Pastries by Miss Duquette and its pastry chef extraordinaire. Her business is doing well, her son enjoys pre-school and while she and her husband have their disagreements, things are generally fine. Until that is, her chief client and friend, the owner of Walter’s Place, suggested to the governor of New Mexico that Greenie might just be the chef he needs at his Santa Fe governor’s residence. Flattered by the governor’s offer, Greenie decides to try it out for a few months. Although her husband is unable to leave his patients immediately, Greenie packs herself and her son and moves to New Mexico.

This is just the opening to Julia Glass’s second novel. Glass takes the reader back and forth from the busy streets of Manhattan to the political world of the New Mexico governor’s mansion and the wide-open spaces of his working ranch. In each of the settings, she peoples the book with interesting characters that are occasionally interconnected. For example, Greenie’s friend Walter decides to let his nephew stay with him for the summer. The nephew meets the girl who walks his uncle’s dog. She also works with a volunteer animal rescue group. In the same time frame, Greenie’s husband happens to meet a disoriented young woman who also volunteers for the animal group. These two young women have only a passing knowledge of each other, yet the reader begins to sense connections between unrelated individuals.

The novel covers a relatively short time period—a little over a year, but the characters go through a variety of upheavals in their relationships. Old friends rediscover each other and new friendships develop. Some relationships fall apart while others are cemented together.

All in all, the book is immensely satisfying, particularly in its character development. I found only one thing disconcerting: a sudden shift to present tense near the end of the book. This, however, was not enough to prevent me from highly recommending the book.

Armchair Interviews agrees.

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