QUITE A YEAR FOR PLUMS by Bailey White

QUITE A YEAR FOR PLUMS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lg. Prt. 0-375-70292-X Offering her well-known insight into humanity’s quirks, NPR commentator White (Sleeping at the Starlite Motel, 1995) makes the Georgia romance between an ardent plant pathologist and a flighty painter of birds the centerpiece of her first novel. Roger knows his way around a field of peanuts, but he fares less well in love. When his wife Ethel runs off with a Nashville musician (then dumps him for a New Hampshire boatwright), it ends the marriage but doesn—t sever ties to Roger’s in-laws, who continue to think of him as family. So it’s only natural that Roger is called on to help when Louise, Ethel’s mom, starts fretting about extraterrestrial visitors and getting lost after wandering from home. And it’s only natural, too, that the in-laws grow concerned when Roger shows an interest in a woman who, in a series of trips, brings nearly all of her household possessions to the dump, with a tidy note attached to each item. Della is an artist—and not a bad one, it turns out--whose dumpside sorties are caused by aesthetic despair: She just can—t manage to paint an old breed of chickens to her liking. After a fashion, she returns Roger’s affection, and the two conduct a courtship of sorts while much else goes on around them—Louise moves in with a typographer who appreciates her unique approach to letters; Ethel continues to play the field; Roger’s childhood horse succumbs to old age; camellias bloom; and thrips spread a deadly virus to the area’s peanut crop. All told, life in rural Georgia undergoes change in not-so-subtle ways. At end, Della flies away to Australia in search of new birds to paint, leaving lonely local hero Roger to carry on with his work. The pages resonate with White’s distinctive voice and dazzle with her naturalist’s eye for detail, making the strictly episodic nature of this tale less a drawback than a continuation of her familiar storytelling habits. (First printing of 150,000)

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-44531-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998




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