Quite frankly, no one could have gotten away with this book except the author Fannie Flagg. For what other author would someone be patient enough to read a book in which most of the characters are dead and buried? Especially if it’s not a horror story?
As far as this reviewer is concerned, Fannie Flagg will never write a story as funny, poignant, and compelling as Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, but I’m glad she keeps trying. While I don’t absolutely LOVE every one of her books, I think it’s safe to say that they nearly all – or at least the ones I have read – make me smile.
That’s because the stories are all character-driven, and her characters are all lovable. Even if they’re dead.
The story begins many years ago with Lordor Nordstrom, an immigrant from Sweden homesteading in Missouri. The area in which he lives is made up entirely of Swedish immigrants. With Lordor taking the lead, the people eventually begin building the makings of a town, which they call Elmwood Springs, with Lordor serving as mayor. They build businesses, churches and even a cemetery.
The town becomes a bustling community with loving friends and neighbors, business owners, preachers, and all manner of people who make up a normal town. But things become interesting when people begin to die. Because lo, and behold, though they are buried in the cemetery, they are still able to talk and observe what’s going on in their little community.
And that’s about all that happens in the book. The story is told almost primarily through the voices of the dead. And it’s okay. Because they people of Elmwood Springs watch out for each other whether living or dead.
There are so many characters over so many years that it becomes confusing for the reader, or at least for this reader. Still, I enjoyed the book very much and it left me feeling good.
That’s about as good a compliment as I can give a novel.