I was a big fan of Glass' first work, which I mentioned last week, Three Junes. Three novellas with interrelated characters in each, it was a beautiful display of love and its complexities. I picked up The Whole World Over at the last book sale at my local library (for $1!), based solely on the author name. Well, the copious amounts of bread on the cover didn't hurt.
It tells the stories of how one baker's decision to move to Arizona to become the governor's head chef effected those close to her. A compelling idea, if a bit chick lit.
Greenie is the owner of a small bakery in NYC whose coconut cake sends Ray, the governor of Arizona, into a tailspin. (I should warn you, it's nothing romantic.) He lures her to the west, where she settles in with her son, leaving her husband in the city. Walter, her good neighborhood friend and local NYC restauranteur, set her up with the job in the first place, and is beginning to get the itch to settle down.
So at this point, we've got three narrators: Greenie, Walter and Greenie's husband, Alan. Glass adds Saga, a woman suffering from intermittent amnesia she sustained from an accident years ago, who runs into Alan on the street and begins working part-time in the same neighborhood as Walter.
I can see how the first three main characters fit in, but Saga remained a bit of a mystery to me. Her story seemed a bit misplaced, and even uncomfortable to me (I think Glass is trying to put the reader in the same mindframe as Saga in this respect: slightly off-balance, incapable, and helpless in her own life).
Greenie and Alan dither about their marriage and son, Walter dithers about his on-off lover Gordie and invites his 20-year old nephew to live with him to learn the restaurant business, and Saga rescues dogs and falls for a bookstore owner.
I wish I had liked this book more, as it has much potential. At the end of the day, though, I wasn't wildly in love with any of the characters, and the book felt middling. Not bad, not good. Just there.