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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book Review : Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

When was the last time you read a novel you didn’t want to put down? A novel that combines all the ingredients of a block buster: love, murder, racialism, a woman trying to come to terms with her  menopause and weight, fear of aging , death, food and a lesbian relationship ? Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg  is a novel  that has all these and more, ensuring that the book was also made into a movie.  It is a story of two women in the 1980s:  gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to  middle aged Evelyn. It is also, infact more so, the  story   of two women in the 1930’s--of the  daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her beautiful friend Ruth--who  run a Cafe in Whistle Stop, Alabama. The café  offers good barbecue , good coffee, hot food to anyone passing by and all kinds of love and laughter. It also dishes out a barbecued , headless, body  to the detectives investigating the murder of above. The detectives find it lip smacking enough to ask the cook the recipe ! The past unfolds through the story teller,Ninny Threadgoode  and ensures that the present--for Evelyn , and for the reader,will never be quite the same again.

The novel weaves in and out  of  the past and the present through the growing  friendship between Evelyn Couch and Ninny , an elderly woman who lives in a nursing home. Evelyn’s mother-in-law is in the same nursing home . Every week Evelyn comes to  visit her but gradually starts spending the time with Ninny, who tells her stories about  her youth in Whistle Stop, Alabama where her sister-in-law Idgie and Idgie's friend Ruth ran a café. Throughout the novel the narrator and time period  changes. Some of the  funniest lines  come  from  the  fictional newspaper in Whistle Stop, Alabama called "The Weems Weekly". The Weekly also acts as a narrator- taking the story forward. . As the novel advances, Ninny and Evelyn develop a lasting friendship.  At  Ninny’s  gentle  prodding Evelyn gets a job with Mary Kay Cosmetics and  begins to  take hormones for menopause. Evelyn is   happier than she ever has been. She  goes to The Lodge  in order to lose weight. Here she receives a letter from Mrs. Hartman, Mrs. Threadgoode's neighbor, that Mrs. Threadgoode is  dead. The story ends with Evelyn’s visit to whistle Stop .Here she comes to know that Ninny Threadgood has left her book of recipes for Evelyn.

The book acts as a comforter – warm and cosy. And ,  just as a comforter does, makes us  want to carry on being with it.

1 comment:

  1. Cant agree with you more Anju. Fannie Flagg has written a beautiful novel that had me laughing out loud with almost every other chapter, crying at times and feeling like I was right there in Whistle Stop. This novel reaches into the heart and stays there. This has almost everything: a murder mystery, a love story, the Great Depression, a robin hood of the trains :) and plenty of family and friends.

    excellent review done :)