Monday, December 14, 2020

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I cannot believe that I have never read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe before now! I've seen the movie a million times but never read it before. Now there's a sequel, though, and I thought it was high time (so that I could read the sequel and not feel like a terrible reader!). 

I won't include a synopsis here because I think pretty much everyone knows what the book is about. If you don't, Evelyn Couch, a woman on the brink of menopause, meets Ninny Threadgood while visiting her mother in law at a nursing home. Ninny regales Evelyn throughout the book with tales of her hometown, Whistle Stop. She hooks Evelyn with the hint of a murder but it's the people that keep Evelyn coming back. 

The book is told through flashbacks, newspaper articles, and Evelyn's story (which includes visits to the nursing home). 

This is a story about women and friendship and found family and love! So much love! That said, the book gave me a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but the really heart-wrenching stuff hits so much harder in the movie. 

I will say that the movie is surprisingly pretty true to the book. It's more streamlined and simplified, but quite true. One difference is that Ruth doesn't show up until after Buddy dies, so she's not in love with him at all in the book. Also, the movie is told much more linearly than the book. 

We also get a little peek at Buddy Jr and other characters who really don't appear much or at all in the movie, and I really appreciated that. Even more specifically, the book delves into the life experiences of the black people in Whistle Stop more than the movie. Theirs are still side stories, but we get, for example, the different experiences between two brothers and their children. 

One of the things that surprised me the most was the difference between the way Ruth and Idgie's stories are treated between the book and the movie. The book was published in 1987, the movie released in 1991 and while I knew the movie hinted at Ruth and Idgie's relationship, it's clear in the book that they're together. Which was a pleasant surprise! No one takes issue with them being together! When Ruth returns, she flat out tells Idgie's parents that she'll never leave her again, which prompts Idgie's mother to comment about her not knowing what she's in for. Honestly, it was so refreshing knowing that this book has existed for so long and while I'm sure it's out there, I've never come across anyone complaining about this book or its content. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is pure enjoyment. It's a feel good book that'll make you mostly root for humanity again. What's more, it's a book that looks at women in particular. 

(By the way, I listened to this one on audio and the narrator is wonderful! She sounds like Jessica Tandy! The sequel's audio is read by the author herself.)

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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