You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow! This is an oldie!” And yes, I suppose
at this point, Fried Green Tomatoes At the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg could be considered a modern classic. This was a July pick for the girlfriend’s book club I run outside of the library.
Fried Green Tomatoes At the Whistle Stop Cafe tells the joint stories of Mrs. Threadgood and Evelyn in the 1980’s and Idgie and her friend Ruth starting in the 1920’s. There is a good deal of time jumping in this book, so pay close attention to who is telling what, when.
Evelyn is a middle-aged housewife who raised two grown children and waits on her working husband hand and foot. Every Sunday they take a visit to the nursing home to visit her husband’s mother. One Sunday she is sitting eating a candy bar (a common occurrence in this book) and an elderly lady sits down and starts talking to her. Mrs. Threadgood, a former resident of Whistle Stop, Alabama, tells Evelyn the story of her family and friends.
Idgie and Ruth open a diner called Fried Green Tomatoes, the only restaurant in the entire train town (population is less than 250) and are the care-takers of the homeless, the refugees, the workers, the despondent, and the African-American population. The “n” word does appear a lot in this book, just as a warning, but it is important to remember the time and place this storyline is set in. Ruth and Idgie are women ahead of their time, colorblind, independent, and accepting.
There are too many stories for me to list here, but you can expect murders, spousal abuse, racial issues, sexuality issues, the KKK, and much more. There were a couple of things that stood out to me however. First, it is never too late to change your life. Evelyn is deeply unhappy with her current state- she is unfulfilled in every aspect of her life. Through Mrs. Threadgood’s stories, companionship, and friendship, Evelyn learns she is not just a housewife, she’s a woman.
Second, the power of friendship. If you want to believe that Ruth and Idgie are just good friends (which they are not), you can see how important it is to have someone to have your back, stand up for you, support you, and be there when the going gets rough. Oftentimes family disappoints and abandons you, and friends become family.
If you read my posts, you know I listen to many books on audio. This book I actually read! I enjoyed it and thought it was an appropriate book not only for the time of year, but for our book club as well. Books that celebrate friendship and women are perfect picks for book clubs made up of girlfriends! I recommend reading this book and then watching the movie, which is pretty close to the book.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
See you in the stacks,