Uncle Daniel Ponder, heir of the richest family in Clay County, Mississippi, has a penchant for giving away his possessions -- from heirloom watches to the family filling station. Small wonder that his dismayed father, Sam "Grandpa" Ponder, tries to have him committed.
Co-conspirator in the plot to tame Daniel's generosity is his niece and contemporary, Edna Earle Ponder. Edna Earle is the brains of the family, the proprietor of the Beulah Hotel, and the exasperated narrator of her Uncle Daniel's bizarre misadventures.
After the family attorney, DeYancey "Tadpole" Clanahan, manages to win back the Ponders' gas station from the pretty female motorcycle daredevil on whom Daniel has impulsively bestowed it, Grandpa and Edna Earle decide that Daniel needs to settle down with a wife. The most respectable candidate is widow Teacake Magee. Daniel is game, but on the way to the wedding ceremony he happens across backwoods flower Bonnie Dee Peacock and marries her instead.
A wisp of a thing and a mere 17 years old, Bonnie Dee insists on a "trial" marriage while she gets used to living in a big house and being the richest woman in Clay County. But the isolation doesn't suit her and she runs away, only to return in time for a dark and stormy night during which she mysteriously dies.
The ambitious district attorney Dorris Gladney, archenemy of the Ponders, indicts Daniel for murder. Tadpole organizes the inept defense, and thus commences one of the strangest trials in American fiction -- a trial with an outcome that would have bewildered even Perry Mason.
A Eudora Welty Timeline | One Writer's Place | Voices of Mississippi
Martha Coolidge, Director | Novel to Film | Who's Who
Story Synopsis | Teacher's Guide | The Forum | Links + Bibliography
Home | About The Series | The American Collection | The Archive
Schedule & Season | Feature Library | eNewsletter | Book Club
Learning Resources | Forum | Search | Shop | Feedback
Masterpiece is sponsored by: