June 19, 2009

Review: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
by Fannie Flagg

I purchased the book used a while ago but I finally found an opportunity to read it when I saw that Fannie Flagg wrote the forward for The Well and the Mine, my next read. I thought I'd better understand Fannie Flagg a little before I lent my time to newcomer Gin Phillips.

In case you haven't already seen the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes is about a middle aged woman, Evelyn, who meets an elderly lady, Mrs. Threadgoode, at an old folks home in the 1980s. Mrs. Threadgoode spends all her time reminiscing about the good old days, starting in 1929, in the small town of Whistle Stop, Alabama. She had a special fondness for the eccentric Idgie Threadgoode, her sister-in-law. The chapters move back and forth through the two time periods with the added feature of newspaper gossip columns from Whistle Stop back in the old days, a feature that exhibited the local flavor effectively. Mostly the book is about Whistle Stop and Idgie and why she was accused of murder but it is also about the power of the unexpected friendship between Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgoode.

The atmosphere of small town southern living during the Depression was an added character of the story. I learned about the food, the customs, the prejudices, the characters that were common back then. It was a taste of what it must have been like for my grandfather who grew up in Oklahoma around that time. There are some deeper subjects that are dealt with in the novel but all is written with a lightness and humor that suits the time and place. The characters are unique; the writing unobtrusive. It made for a fun and enlightening read.

Another great feature that added a little something extra was the recipes at the back of the book. I don't know that I will ever try them but I am curious about what fried green tomatoes taste like. (I'm already aware of the custom of breaking up your cornbread in a glass of milk, and I'm a fan of breaded fried okra thanks to my grandfather.)

To put it plainly, I liked this book for its local flavor, its historical context, its extra features and its quirky characters. Can anyone tell me if the movie is half as good as the book?

Buy this book at Amazon.


3m said...

I LOVED the movie. One of the best. I really must read the book sometime.

bermudaonion said...

I loved the book and thought the movie was as good, if not better than the book. You have to watch it!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book but I have to say that the movie was pretty darn fantastic. Although you might not enjoy it as much since you already know all the twists!

farmlanebooks said...

I haven't read the book either, but can confirm that the movie is brilliant! It feels a little bit dated now, but it is so good it doesn't really matter.

Petunia said...

The movie came out when I was in high school. I remember watching parts of it on TV (like when Evelyn rammed her car into the car that stole her parking spot) but I can't say I remember very much. It's on the Netflix queue already. Thanks ladies.

Jeane said...

The movie is fantastic. I need to read the book now, too. I had fried green tomatoes once. It was pretty good.

Zibilee said...

I loved this book, and I am glad that you did too. I think the movie was also excellent, you should try to check it out sometime soon.

Donura said...

I absolutely loved the movie. I have watched it multiple times both alone and with hubby who also loved it especially Kathy Bates. Reward yourself with the movie.