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.