cover image To the Market Place

To the Market Place

Berry Fleming. Permanent Press (NY), $24.95 (528pp) ISBN 978-0-933256-72-9

Like a time capsule gently opened after a half-century, this leisurely, mild-mannered novel, first published in 1938, is a perfectly preserved microcosm of its era. Setting his story in 1928, Fleming ( The Make Believers ), follows four intelligent, ambitious and well-connected young Southerners as they leave home to pursue their goals in New York. Owen Woodruff is an earnest and engaging artist who meets Louisa Meade while both are studying in Europe. They marry and settle in New York, where Owen struggles to become a successful painter. When Louisa introduces him to Caroline Menifee, her former roommate at Smith, mutual interests lead to an affair. Quincy Thayer, who has already published his first novel, has a brief liaison with Caroline but abandons his casual lifestyle for serious intellectual challenge with a leftist group. Owen and Louisa eventually return to Alabama to manage the family business. Only Caroline remains in limbo, severing ties with her past and adapting a lifestyle then regarded as promiscuous. These four well-bred Southerners, with their deep-rooted family ties, respect for courtesy and reverence for the Southern past, experience true culture shock upon encountering New York and its polyglot community. The lengthy, sometimes tedious novel is marred with overt anti-semitism. (Apr.)