Quite a Year for Plums (1999)

by Bailey White

The first thing to know about Quite a Year for Plums is that despite its billing as a novel, it isn’t. Once you get past missing a plot, waiting for a climax and denouement, you can settle down and enjoy a collection by one of the South’s foremost storytellers.

What allows Quite a Year for Plums to be called a novel is that the vignettes revolve around the same cast of small-town Georgians: Roger, a plant pathologist; his ex-wife Ethel; her deranged mother Louise; Louise’s sister Eula; retired schoolteachers Hilma and Meade; Della, a bird artist whom Roger falls for; and various lesser characters. Each chapter tells a stand-alone story, and readers may well wonder what it’s all adding up to. The answer is not much—except a humorous, tender look at people who are both small-town Southern and universal, both quirky and ordinary. There aren’t many deep insights into their behavior, but if you want to pass a few hours relaxing with a smile on your face, Quite a Year for Plums is a good bet.

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