Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

By Fannie Flagg

Set in the 1920s to 1950s, this is the story of Whistle Stop, a very small town in Alabama. Told through a series of flash backs and folksy newsletter articles, the story focuses mainly on Idgie and Ruth, the two women who run the Whistle Stop Cafe.
The story has a brief introduction, a newsletter article announcing the opening of the Whistle Stop Cafe, June 1929. It then moves to 1985, with Evelyn Couch, a depressed and overweight housewife, visiting the nursing home where her mother-in-law is living. Not being a fan of the mother-in-law, Evelyn escapes to another part of the building where she encounters Ninny Threadgood, another resident of the home. Ninny loves to chatter and soon engulfs Evelyn in stories about Whistle Stop and its denizens. At first, Evelyn is rather taken aback by this gabby old lady, but as the weeks pass, she become more involved in the stories and begins to reexamine her life in an effort to understand her own deep unhappiness.
The Whistle Stop stories about Idgie and Ruth tell of a different era, a simpler era but a crueler era.  A time where white racists used terror tactics to keep the blacks "in their place." But at the same time, a real community of caring and connections existed between the two races, if rather covertly.  Some things about life in those days are charming and others horrifying, but overall, this is a charming and nostalgic look at life in a funny little town in Alabama.

I did enjoy reading this book again, just for the sake of nostalgia if nothing more. While the story of Idgie and Ruth didn't really grab me, what I enjoyed the most was Ninny Threadgood and her tales of her friends and family from the old days. I also liked Evelyn too, although I thought she caved into the modern obsession with being thin. I would have liked her better if she had accepted that she was chubby and got on with her life instead of running off to the fat farm.

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