Official Synopsis: The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.
Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.
Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.
With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Setting: Elmwood Springs, Missouri – 1889 to 2021
*** I received an eARC copy of The Whole Town’s Talking from Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
My Review: The Whole Town’s Talking is classic Fannie Flagg, and fans of her books will love this one! I’ve read several of her books, haven’t gotten to all of them yet, and have honestly enjoyed each of her books that I’ve read. They all have charm and kindness to them, and The Whole Town’s Talking is no exception.
The Whole Town’s Talking starts off focusing on Lordor Nordstrom, who founds Swede Town, Missouri, in 1889. Swede Town is eventually renamed Elmwood Springs, and the book follows the town and inhabitants of Elmwood Springs throughout the years, starting in 1889 and ending up in the future, in 2021. This concept of tracing a town through its inhabitants over the years is a lot of fun, but at the same time it sometimes felt lacking in detail. I wanted more of certain characters that I grew to love, and this book is really snippets of every day life in small town America. Reading this book felt like I was looking through pictures in a history museum – you get a little bit of information, but there is something missing.
There are several memorable characters, from the founder of the town, Lorder Nordstrom and his mail-order bride Katrina Olsen, to Birdie Swenson, a member of the town with big city dreams, to Miss Lucille Beemer, the first schoolteacher with a sad love story, to my favorite, Elner Shimfissle (that name!) with her fig preserves and love of life.
The characters are really the highlight of the book. Since you see the town from its beginning to a time in the future, characters come and go, there is death and sadness, but also great joy, love, and humor. Oh, is there humor in this book! I laughed out loud in numerous places, from the adventures of Sweet Potato the pig, to the entertainment of Dixie Cahill’s School of Tap and Twirl, and the numerous references to real people and events. There is a particularly memorable scene involving Bonnie and Clyde that had me grinning from ear to ear.
The Whole Town’s Talking is told in such a way that could be read out loud to others, or even read in short sections, like a serial. Each “chapter” varies in length, from a paragraph to pages long, and this format was very easy to read, but also because of the format I also felt my mind wandering, and had no trouble setting this book down and picking up something else along the way. I don’t consider this a bad thing in regards to this book, but rather thought it was interesting to read several sections a night, or in the morning before work.
When I hit about the 50% mark and I still didn’t understand what exactly the overall plot was and what the point of the book was, I gave up trying to figure it out and just went with it. I think that is the best way to approach this book. The Whole Town’s Talking is not really about plot, but is rather about taking a look at small town Americana, and treating it with respect and looking back at history. The Whole Town’s Talking felt respectful towards its characters (who could easily have become caricatures), and was respectful towards the small town mentality and upbringing. I really enjoyed this book, and fans of Fannie Flagg and books about small town America will enjoy this.
Bottom Line: Cute and enjoyable with memorable characters. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
The Whole Town’s Talking was published on November 29, 2016.
Doesn’t this sound like an enchanting read? Do you enjoy Fannie Flagg’s books? Which one is your favorite?