Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset

Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset is a fairy-tale-like story told in the context of the complex realities of early to mid 20th century America. Set in Philadelphia and New York City, this novel is crafted with such subtlety that the casual reader may miss the depth of knowledge and life that brims below the daintily espoused language. Although she approaches despotism at some points, the author, in the voice of the omniscient narrator, builds trust with adeptly evinced setting and insight and, at times, just as deftly misleads the reader. Minor roles are made vital when Fauset presents them with all their flaws and ornament. The word “propinquity,” employed several (or one too many) times, serves as a metaphor for the protagonist and for the novel: while close in proximity and forthright in words and deeds, both are obscured as their deeper selves remain veiled to the inattentive eye. This coming of age novel takes the structure of a nursery rhyme and fills it with the stuff of life—hope, disappointment, irony, wisdom—and reminds us that each moment of the journey is a worthwhile one.

To Market, To Market,
To Buy a Plum Bun;

Home again, Home again,

Market is done.

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