Quite a Year for Plums: A Novel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
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

Quite a Year for Plums: A novel Hardcover – June 16, 1998


See all 21 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$0.91 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$5.00

Frequently Bought Together

Quite a Year for Plums: A novel + Sleeping at the Starlite Motel: and Other Adventures on the Way Back Home
Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (June 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679445315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679445319
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bailey White's intimate vignettes of small-town life are loosely held together by their subjects, who are themselves tightly held together by love, family, and idiosyncrasy. This episodic mode, which has made her a favorite on National Public Radio, suits her just as well as a novelist. In Quite a Year for Plums, even the temporary denizens of her fictional southern Georgia town have their oddities: a bird artist is obsessed by a vanishing breed of chickens and has nightmares about chicken feet, while another dreams night and day of typography. He compares, for instance, the Mistral font to George Hamilton and laments the bastardization of Bodoni. It is perhaps the Gill Sans typeface that most raises his aesthetic hackles: "They shorten the uppers, they enlarge the counters, they round off the angles, they make it soft and slack. They castrate it!" (Suffice it to say that his partner in lamentation is a woman who fervently believes in little spacemen of the nonhuman variety.)

In addition to the extraterrestrialite, the permanent townsfolk include a pair of retired schoolteachers who have been reading aloud to each other for 50 years each Thursday in May. Why Thursday? Why only May? White doesn't let us in on that secret: she's reluctant to intrude too much on her characters' habits and hobby horses, even though they are happy enough to intrude on one another. What concerns these eccentrics above all is plant pathologist and banjo picker Roger Meadows, whom men and women alike admire. "Perhaps because of his years of walking in densely planted fields of tobacco and peanuts," White describes him at one social event, "Roger had a graceful way of moving through a crowd, gently slipping between the people as if they were sticky, floppy leaves that he must not bruise." A photo of him comparing sick and healthy peanut plants is the closest thing the place has to a pin-up. Even his ex-wife's aunt has one on her refrigerator: "On the white of Roger's shirt Eula printed R-O-G-E-R in proud capital letters, with the final R dipping down out of consideration for the roots of the healthy peanut plant."

Above all, his peers would like Roger to settle down with the right woman, in the wake of his failed marriage to the town's belle dame sans merci. Alas, when he falls under the spell of an inappropriate candidate--the aforementioned bird artist--they seem to know it won't last. But White describes this unusual romance with such sweetness and generosity that the reader hopes differently. Quite a Year for Plums is filled with strange social convergences, quiet comedy, and understated tragedy. The author has an eye--and, of course, ear--for the telling detail and the decisive, domestic moment.

From Library Journal

The women in town are worried about Roger, the peanut virologist. Hilma and Meade discuss him at their weekly readings. Eula frets over his welfare?not to mention his appetite. And everyone else just seems to be content with giving opinions on his budding romance with the strange bird artist, Della. National Public Radio commentator and best-selling short story writer White (Sleeping at the Starlite Motel, Thorndike, 1996) will make the reader care about this nurturing gaggle of women and other community members in a small, sleepy town in southern Georgia. There's the obsessed typographer who feels personally called to save vanishing typefaces. Helping him is Louise, who thinks letters and string will entice creatures from outer space. In the meantime, Louise's daughter Ethel, who left peanut virologist Roger, involves herself in brief relationships with an eccentric electric fan collector and a boat builder. This is not just for those readers interested in small-town tales but for anyone wishing to enjoy a charming story of human relations. One hopes that White has more novels to come.
-?Shannon Haddock, Bellsouth Corporate Lib. & Business Research Ctr., Birmingham
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Important Information

Ingredients
Example Ingredients

Directions
Example Directions

More About the Author

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

Customer Reviews

Her characters were deftly drawn.
Paula Thoele
If you like sitting on the porch with a good friend and listening to the events of their day over a glass of iced tea, then this book will suit you.
leb
No plot, no climax, no resolution, no nothing.
Dianna Setterfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on May 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Bailey White writes a very small, understated story that takes place in a little south Georgia town. The joy of reading this book is spending time with a very unusual cast of characters...a peanut disease specialist, wildlife artist, collector of electric fans, to name just a few. While reading, you get to watch, unobserved, the comings and goings of these quirky people, as they go about the business of their lives. This is a beautifully written book. It's funny and witty, especially the dialogue. How wonderful to spend time with these people. Ms White doesn't disappoint.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Reading Quite a Year for Plums is like walking among the residents of a small town, becoming part of their lives and they part of yours, without ever being seen. Bailey White has an uncanny knack for creating characters that come alive. When I finished reading Quite a Year for Plums I was left with the same empty feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had the day I moved from my childhood home in rural Virginia.
Like moving to a new locale, it takes a while to get to know each of the characters. My only criticism of the novel is that during the first few chapters I often found the need to refer to the list of characters. When I purchased the book, I believed that a cast list for a relatively short novel was presumptuous. I later learned that it was a necessity.
I highly recommend Quite a Year for Plums, as well as Mama Makes Up her Mind and Sleeping at the Starlite Motel.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By leb on December 18, 2004
Format: Audio Cassette
I loved this book from start to finish. Life isn't about plot, it's about the little events that shape your life each day. Sometimes you can only see the plot when you get to the end and look backwards, and I think that's the style captured so gracefully here. It's a book with no heroes, no villans, just people with fragile human hearts. The humor is very dry, you will miss it if you aren't paying attention. But the effortless storytelling is very engaging.

If you want something to HAPPEN, if you want some grand GESTURE, and if you have to have everything about life EXPLAINED to you before it makes sense, pass on this book. If you like sitting on the porch with a good friend and listening to the events of their day over a glass of iced tea, then this book will suit you. It's about being in the company of quality people, and knowing that whatever they say will be worth the time to listen.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Bailey White's latest is a masterful recreation of the people and places that make up the North Florida, South Georgia region. Her sense of place is sure and strong and her words took me right back to places I have known and loved. Sure, not much happens in the book, but the people were mostly real for me and I empathized with their frailties and shortcomings in their attempts to care about each other. I found the book relaxing and evocative of another way of life.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sally J. Nottage on March 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Characters that gently flow with each changing of the season. There was a soothing quality to the pace of the story that the reader absorbs, especially from the elderly characters. Scenes are centered around the cycle of nature so anyone who has gardened, lived on a farm or had a parent to care for, will especially appreciate the manner in which life and people are shown. I closed the book gently with a sigh and wanted more.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Popular radio commentator Bailey White's first novel abounds with smile-provoking snapshots of lovable yet eccentric inhabitants of rural Georgia, very much like her early collections of vignettes - Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Sleeping At The Starlite Motel. The plot line may be thin in Quite A Year For Plums, but the countryside is thick with idiosyncratic characters who touch your heart.
Roger, a "U. Of Ga. Plant pathologist" whose specialty is peanuts, has been divorced by Ethel, a schoolteacher with a rapacious appetite for men. Her conquests include Jim Wade, an avid collector of desk fans; a Nashville songwriter; and a boat builder who leaves her home carpeted in wood shavings.
Ethel's adventuresome spirit may have been inherited from her mother, Louise, who is convinced spacemen regularly visit their community. She times alien visits with her Wal-Mart clock, while attempting to lure them with combinations of rusty cast-off letters and numbers. Now living with Eula, her sister, Louise spends her days arranging Cheerios and Scrabble tiles in varying designs as she awaits the next intrusion from outer space.
Serious and dedicated to protecting the seedlings in his care, Roger stoically accepts his unsought singleness. He also accepts squash casseroles and the solicitous ministrations of Meade and Hilma, two retired school teachers, best friends who have read aloud to each other "on their Thursday evenings in May" for the past 50 years. Meade is known for volunteering to cross-stitch the Christian symbol of a fish on 28 church kneeling cushions. Instead of sewing "the simple oval and triangle....
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By BEN RILEY on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I realize I'm coming to the game late, since this book has already had 61 reviews over the past 5 years with an average rating of 3 stars, but I just can't resist sharing my disappointment with this "novel." Having been a long-time fan of Bailey White's picturesque vignettes on NPR and in her story collections (Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Sleeping at the Starlite Motel), I was delighted to come across a paperback copy of this book at a local thrift store for $1.00. In retrospect, I fear that I overspent. The publisher's use of the word "novel" is misleading in the extreme, for this book is simply a collection of scenes of southern life held together loosely by a cast of mostly forgettable characters (thus the critical need for the list of characters at the front of the book - you'll need it!). While it is true that each of our lives may be filled with a variety of odd or dysfunctional family, friends, and acquaintances exactly like those in this book, to build a book around such characters requires more than a simple narrative description of their quirks to hold a reader's attention for 200+ pages. As some other reviewers have noted, the book is not without its moments, e.g., a couple of old ladies helping a widow friend spread her long dead husband's cremated ashes; a man's obsessive passion for collecting vintage electric fans; a woman's personal conviction that aliens are monitoring our every move; the city folks who move to the country for peace and quiet, only to find themselves completely out of their element. Each might have made a delightful literary sketch in and of itself, but stringing them together in a vaguely chronological order and calling the results a Novel, is quite unfair to both the reader and Ms White, the writer.Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews