October 06, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

This was such a fun book! While it did have its moments of seriousness and development between characters, there was a lot of joy and jokes in this book as well. Flagg certainly has written a classic in my opinion.

There are two main story lines in this book, with little snippets of newspaper articles thrown in. The narrator storyline would probably be between Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgoode in the time line of the 80's. Evelyn visits with her husband every Sunday to see his mother in the nursing home. Since his mother isn't particularly nice to her, she uses the time to go by herself and sneak in candy. This changes one Sunday when Mrs. Threadgoode sits in the same area with her and begins talking. And doesn't stop. This continues on each Sunday until Evelyn begins to look forward to the lady and her stories and starts sharing her snacks with her. Through the stories she is able to overcome problems of her own and feel like she belongs somewhere.

The next storyline involves the people in the stories. The people who frequented the Whistle Stop Cafe in its heyday. The time line ranges from the very early 1900's to almost the time of Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgoodes story. Must prominently featured in this time line are the owners of the cafe, Idgie and Ruth. It tells of how they meet, what happens in their lives, and the friends and adventures they have. There are a few sad moments including topics such as death, abuse, and accidents, but the majority of the stories are very light hearted. Also with these chapters there's a smaller chapter written by the towns postal service worker as a news article for the paper. It usually mentions an event that the storyline goes on to tell in greater detail.

All the characters were wonderfully complex. They had distinct personalities and fit into the story well. I especially love how Evelyn grew in the book. She went from downtrodden to angry to an uplifted person.

The writing was mostly easy to read. At first I drove myself crazy trying to keep up with what date was what for the chapters, but finally I gave up and just concentrated on the story. I found that that improved the book greatly for me and honestly, the dates really didn't matter so much. As far as the language goes this was written to be an honest telling of the South in that era and as such, it isn't very politically correct. This could offend some people potentially.

There was one thing that wasn't very fitting (and could be a spoiler, this is your warning) was the relationship between Idgie and Ruth. While it wasn't so much the possibility of the relationship that was unusual, it was the way no one batted an eye at it. For the times that seemed very progressive as there are still a lot of people who are homophobic even in today's world. Instead of trying to make sense of it in an accurate fashion, I just told myself that Idgie acted so much like a boy that maybe everyone forgot she was a girl. Regardless, it was nice to see how these differences were accepted in the novel even if it wasn't realistic.

Great story and I've heard the movie is just as good. I may have to go see it now.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Copyright 1987
395 pages + a few pages of mouthwatering southern recipes

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