Title: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Author: Fannie Flagg
Published: McGraw-Hill 1988
“It’s funny, most people can be around someone and they gradually begin to love them and never know exactly when it happened; but Ruth knew the very second it happened to her. When Idgie had grinned at her and tried to hand her that jar of honey, all these feelings that she had been trying to hold back came flooding through her, and it was at that second in time that she knew she loved Idgie with all her heart.”
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which will now be called FGT because holy cow long title) absolutely blew me away. I expected it to be a charming novel about a quaint cafe in the south, and it was, but it was also so much more. The thing I loved most about it was that it touched on so many issues – the Great Depression, feminism, abuse, racism, alcoholism, disability, vagrancy, a lesbian relationship in the early 1900’s – and yet it isn’t about any of them. It’s about life. This was very refreshing to me. It seems that these days, addressing issues without focusing on them as a problem or a central theme seems to be impossibly rare. FGT is about human resilience and the ability to weather any storm and continue on.
If you’re not already sold, the characters are unbelievably well, actually, very believably, but you get the picture colorful and real. The stories of the lives of Whistle Stop residents are told through multiple forums: through the storytelling of Ninny Threadgoode to her new friend Evelyn Couch, The Weems Weekly, and occasionally through the minds of the characters you learn to love. Idgie, the wild child of the Threadgoode family and the owner of the Whistle Stop cafe, is one of the most alive characters I’ve ever read. Her band of loyal hooligans are ridiculous and wonderful and YES, the town of Whistle Stop, Alabama is a perfectly idealized picture of a small southern town, but the narrative that takes place there is shockingly reminiscent of real life. Flagg did a fantastic job of making the story both cozy and raw, an impressive dichotomy I don’t believe most authors could achieve. And, since she made me cry, she gets 5 stars.
My mom wanted me to watch the movie version when I was about 16 and I, being a tragically misguided teenager just kidding, I just didn’t like tomatoes or sappy movies had no interest in it. I promptly forgot all about it until my boyfriend’s mom shout-out, Maude! passed on her copy to me. I now must formally apologize to my own mother for disregarding her movie choice. But really, I don’t think I was old enough to appreciate it yet at that point. Since I’ve become so incredibly wise at 22 *wink, wink* I would encourage all women to read this book. Seriously, it’s a must-read. I laughed, I cried, I cried some more when I finished the book, and I felt empowered to be a woman in today’s (slightly) more enlightened society. I fell in love with Whistle Stop and my only complaint about the novel is that there wasn’t more. So read it. readitreaditreadit. And then let me know what you thought! I’m off to see the movie… it’d better do the book justice…
I’ll write again soon. Until then, keep reading.
Found in: Quest No. 1
Have you read FGT? Seen the movie? Agree with me? Let me know!