Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg

Greetings!  Many people have seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, but have you ever read the book?  Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe will have you laughing for hours on end, and, sometimes, you might even cry (there is one section that is so sad).  That was my first introduction to the works of Fannie Flagg. She has written ten (if I counted correctly) other entertaining novels.  A few of them are A Redbird Christmas, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, I Still Dream About You, and Coming Attractions.  If you have not read any of her books, I hope this will give you some incentive.

The Whole Town’s Talking is the latest book by Fannie Flagg.  The Whole’s Town Talking takes us from the town’s inception in 1880 through 2021.  We get to see Lordor Nordstrom arrive from Sweden and start his dairy farm.   The various settlers that join him in Southern Missouri and slowly create a town called Swede Town (in the beginning).  They are more than neighbors; they are a family.  Lordor courts and marries Katrina Olsen, a housemaid from Chicago (with the help from the ladies of the town).  Katrina is a mail order bride that answers Lordor’s advertisement.  Lordor donates land for the town cemetery to be called Still Meadows.  All the original settlers receive a lot.  They take a picnic up the hill and everyone picks their burial plot.  The town slowly grows over time as they add a general store, barber, bakery, and a school.  Miss Lucille Beemer becomes the schoolteacher.  We see the town change over time as new people come to their town and the children grow up, marry, and have their own kids.  The town changes its name to Elmwood Springs and Lordor becomes the first mayor in 1901.  Lordor is the first person to be interred in Still Meadows in 1911. It turns out that life is not over when you die in Elmwood Springs and are laid to rest in Still Meadows.  To find out what happens in Still Meadows and the town of Elmwood Springs, you will need to read The Whole Town’s Talking.

The Whole Town’s Talking is the history of Elmwood Springs from its humble beginning and into the future. The Whole Town’s Talking is not quite what I expected (from reading the blurb).  There are many (dozens) characters in the book, and it can be hard to keep them all straight.  Some of them are quirky like Elner.  Lordor and Katrina are the best developed characters in the book.   Elner Shimfissle (what a name) is the most endearing (and unusual).  The beginning of the story (the first hundred or so pages) is the best part.  After that the story is not as engaging.  I did not know that The Whole Town’s Talking was a part of a series (not until I went write the review and did a little research).  The other three books are Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, Standing in the Rainbow, and Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven.  I believe The Whole Town's Talking can be read as a stand-alone (though I will go back and read the other books when I get an opportunity).  I give The Whole Town’s Talking 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I did feel that Fannie Flagg could have pushed the afterlife section a little further (I am trying not to give away any spoilers).  It was not as magical or special as it could have been.  The epilogue was strange and the ending was a letdown.  The Whole Town’s Talking seemed to be lacking Fannie Flagg’s usual sass (or spark) and humor (that can be found in her earlier works).

I hope all of you are enjoying your weekend.  I am working on getting up my Christmas tree.  I am behind schedule thanks to this cold (I am not referring to the weather) that refuses to go away.  I am off to start reading Fatal Fiction by Kym Roberts.  Have a delightful evening, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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