Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
$0.01
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Like New | Details
Sold by mightymounts
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: Paperback.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Plum & Jaggers Paperback – October, 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, October, 2001
$18.28 $0.01

Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Four young children are orphaned in 1974, when a terrorist bomb explodes on the Milan-Rome express train, in this touching novel about how families cope with violence and loss. The explosion occurs just after the elder McWilliamses leave their kids briefly to get lunch in the cafe car, which is the part of the train that's blown to bits. Dazed and frightened, Charlotte, Oliver and infant Julia cling to Sam, who, at age seven, is the oldest of the siblings. An Italian family cares for them until they're picked up by their kind but conservative grandfather, who--with their agoraphobic grandmother--raises them in Grand Rapids, Mich. Though they love their new charges, the grandparents are distraught by the children's compulsive, secretive behavior, especially that of Sam, who, obsessed by his perceived responsibility to protect his family, becomes a loner with a bad reputation. After Sam is mistakenly blamed for the beating of a younger, handicapped boy, the family moves to Washington, D.C., where Sam shoplifts items to build a bomb shelter and is placed in a juvenile detention center. There, he conceives the idea for Plum & Jaggers, a comedy troupe eventually composed of his brother and sisters, whose bizarre scenarios transform with dark humor the tragedies of random violence and the ironies of modern life. An accomplished author of adult (The Visiting Physician) and children's (The Formerly Great Alexander Family) fiction, Shreve reveals the orphans' creativity and self-destructiveness with balanced honesty, evoking her familiar themes of distrust and haunting memories. Best at sketches detailing individual quirks of the McWilliamses as they grow up, Shreve focuses more intensely throughout on the most disturbed, unstable and unusual character of Sam and leaves the other three siblings a bit sketchier. But through Sam's dark ebullience, Shreve traces the complexity of the family, including the spirits of the dead parents, offering a compassionate portrait of a courageous, troubled and resilient foursome. Author tour. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-Four youngsters are orphaned on a train to Rome when the dining car blows up, and readers follow their lives over the next 20 years. Their ability to develop as individuals is stunted by the death of their parents and their lives are haunted by them. Sam, the oldest, assumes the role of parent and guardian. He skips his own childhood as the other three remain childlike in their obedience to him. In order to cope with his responsibilities, he writes plays. Sam's writing frustrates the adult authorities because he does it instead of his schoolwork. However, the plays ultimately provide a means of supporting the siblings. They form a comedy troupe, first performing in local clubs and eventually having their own TV series about three children who gather around a table in each episode and wait for their parents to return. Sam calls it Plum & Jaggers, based on his parents' pet names for one another; it airs at midnight and has a cult following. The plot of this tender and terrifying book addresses the universal fear of every child-abandonment. The outside world for the McWilliams children is filled with scary things but Sam provides safety within their tightly knit family unit. In the end, the young people again ride the Espresso and continue on to Rome with the hope that this trip will free them at last from their prison of grief and allow them to get on with their lives.
Sheila Barry, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA; 1st Picador USA ed edition (October 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312420250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312420253
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,317,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The power of Plum and Jaggers is how long after reading it I was still thinking about the characters and their story. Sam, as the eldest of four who were orphaned when their parents were blown up on a train, has the burden of protecting his siblings - even when and where they didn't need protection. His resiliency has its price in that he is troubled, overbearing, yet incredibly strong.This is a story of family values with an edge. As in an earlier book, A Country of Strangers, Susan Shreve is able to constantly link comedy and tragedy in a subtle yet provocative manner. She goes deeply into the psychology of her characters with a light flair. A great "book club" book.
Comment 7 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
PLum & Jaggers is the story of four children left as orphans when their parents are tragically killed in a train explosion in Italy. They go on to live with their elderly grandparents, and experience among them juvenile deliquency, a stalker, and in the case of one, and all consuming fear of terrorism and bombing. Sounds like the makings of a comedy troupe, doesn't it? But that's exactly what the four McWilliams children do. While the book is entertaining, it leaves many qestions unanswered. Why are the comedy sketches so funny? There are small hints about the set up, but no pieces of dialogue. And the scenes they set don't sound all that funny. I wanted to know who the stalker was. Was it Sam McWilliams arch nemesis from childhood? Or was it an admirer of Julia? Plum & Jaggers is an interesting examination of what happens to children when they are exposed to tragedy at such a young age, but it left a lot to be desired.
Comment 3 of 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story of four children orphaned by the death of their parents in a terrorist attack touched me deeply. Their loving grandparents raised them from early childhood after their train was blown up in Italy.. I could relate to each of the children and their coping mechanisms, and especially to Sam, the oldest of the children. Sam felt responsible for all of them from age seven on. I wanted to put my arms around him and keep him safe. I wanted to help him release his pent up fear, anger, guilt, and allow him to be a little boy and grow up normally. All of the children eventually "heal," each in their own way. I highly recommend this book.
Comment 2 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books about family I've read in a long time. The McWilliams siblings are wonderfully compelling characters, especially Sam, the oldest. Believing after losing his parents that only he can protect the family and keep it together, he becomes a playwright, pushing his brother and sisters to perform black comedy sketches about a family whose parents never show up for dinner. But the pressure he puts on them -- and the pressure of celebrity, once they start to become famous -- causes rifts between them, and forces Sam to reassess his own concept of family.
Despite its humor, this is at heart a serious allegory about the latchkey children of absent boomer parents, and about the power of the imagination to allow us to reshape our world. The writing is subtle but fast-paced, and the ending is powerfully moving. A great and memorable book.
Comment 8 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This rather bloodless book is about four youngsters of a nomadic American family who are traumatically orphaned when the train bearing them and their parents is blown up near Rome, Italy. The kids spend their childhood with their grandparents in the midwestern U.S. For some reason they never really seek separate lives during the 30 or so years spanned by the book. Instead they move to New York as young adults, where they form a cutting-edge comedy troupe, performing routines based in social commentary with increasing success. In their routines, the unchanging roles assumed by the four seem to include that of dog and a mute. Exactly how this works is not revealed, since the author offers no examples of their comedy. Indeed, it is hard to imagine these four producing anything resembling comedy, since their lives reveal no hint of a sense of humor or any emotion other than fear, since much of the book deals with their attempts to elude a mysterious stalker. This involves frequent changes of address. The major character in the book, Sam, the eldest sibling and author of all the troupe's comedy scripts, does pursue a rather dilatory long-term mail romance with a fan, who apparently lives in easy walking distance from him. The two meet late in the novel, but nothing seems to come of it. This is a well-written novel, but I was left with two or three questions which the author probably didn't intend to be the legacy of her work - why and how do four intelligent siblings stay together well into adulthood with no outside attachments, and just how funny were these comedy skits that were apparently so successful, considering that two of the four characters apparently don't say anything:
Comment 3 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
June 11 1974 seven year old Sam McWilliams and his three siblings (Charlotte 5, Oliver 3 and Julia not quite one) are orphaned when the first two cars of the Espresso from Milan to Rome is bombed, tragically killing their parents. They are immediately cared for by an Italian family then carried home by their grandparents who ultimately raise them.
How can you measure the emotional trauma resulting from such a tumultuous event? Sam, the only one who truly remembers the catastrophe, becomes obsessed with protecting the remaining members of his family to prevent any further hurt. The manner in which he does this is self-defensive and a wildly imaginative.
Susan Richards Shreve has written a powerfully touching story of a family that refuses to become unmoored by tragedy.
Quirky, sad, heartrending and inspiring.
Comment 1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews