On its surface, "Delta Wedding" is a story about the preparations for a wedding by a Southern clan. As one of the characters remarks, the family takes "you in circles, whirling delightedly about [but} nothing really so very much happened." Anyone expecting a page-turner about plantation life or a thickly plotted potboiler will surely be disappointed. Instead, you must be willing to believe that "old stories, family stories, Mississippi stories [are] the same as very holy or very passionate."
The plot, such as it is, is simple: the extended Fairchild family reunites for a wedding, and everyone brings their dreams, memories, grudges, and intrigues. As with any "typical" family reunion, there is a pervasive threat of scandal that never quite pans out, and several petty incidents get blown out of proportion by the affected characters. The sheer number of kinfolk can be overwhelming at times, but they are clearly delineated (although it must be said that the black servants rarely transcend stereotype, which is undoubtedly an accurate portrayal of how a rich Southern family would have viewed the help). Welty's drawling humor gives the narrative much warmth and vitality; her ability to switch perspective seamlessly from one character to the next is truly without equal.
All in all, Welty writes beautifully of familial relations and social manners; she can truly be considered the Jane Austen of the South.