Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Friday, September 16, 2011


Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
by Fannie Flagg
★★★★☆

This novel, made famous by the 1991 movie, tells the story of two pairs of women. The first is Evelyn Couch, a chubby, middle-aged woman with self-esteem issues and an elderly lady, Ninny Threadgoode, who Evelyn meets while visiting her mother-in-law in a nursing home. Mrs. Threadgoode quickly befriends Evelyn and enthralls her with stories of her life in the small Alabama town of Whistle Stop.

The second story is that of Ruth and Idgie, the two women who run the town’s well-loved café. Ruth is a sweet-natured, beautiful lady with a young son named Stump. Idgie is a wild tomboy who drinks, shoots and swears with the men. Their love and friendship defies labels and stereotypes and binds them together for life.

I’ve loved this movie for years, but I somehow missed the book until now. I’m so glad I finally read it. The movie really did a wonderful job with the adaptation, but I think it missed some of the major issues from the novel. I was surprised by how many stories about race relations were in the book.

I loved watching Evelyn transform from a meek doormat to a happy, confident woman. At the beginning, Idgie is the polar opposite character, she’s just bursting at the seams with life. You just can’t beat her passion and spunk. I loved her relationship with Stump. She could talk to him in a way no one else could. She was the same way with the kind hobo, Smokey. She had a way of knowing exactly what people needed and giving it to them while asking for nothing in return.

The story bounces back and forth through the decades starting in the 1920s and finishing in the 1980s. The short chapters introduce us to dozens of southern characters, all of which manage to steal our hearts.

The author deals with serious issues, domestic abuse, racism, murder and more, but she does so while maintaining her sense of humor. One example is the sporadic “The Weems Weekly” which appears every few chapters. One Whistle Stop resident, Dot Weems, writes the bulletin on the small town news. She gives her personal commentary on the events and talks about “her other half (husband)” in a hilarious way.

I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. I can see this becoming a comfort read in the future. It was also a perfect book to read before my upcoming road trip to Alabama.

8 comments:

Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

I read this book a few years ago, and I loved it. Sadly, I have not read any other Fannie Flagg books.

Jillian said...

Ah, I've been curious about this one. Loved the movie!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I'm a bog fan of Fannie Flagg, she's a good one for comfort reading. Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is my 2nd favorite after Green Fried TOmatoes.

Jenners said...

This is the book that got me kicked out of my book club! It was a very pretentious book club, and when it came my turn to pick, I picked this out of "spite" and everyone was miserable and it kind of fell apart after that. I will forever associate this book with that horrible book club.

Care said...

Thank you for the reminder! this book has been on my want-to-read list since I saw the movie!

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

Jenners, please join my book club! I loved Fried Green Tomatoes and we are not too good to read low brow books. :-)

And thank you, Melissa, for the beautiful review of a book that has a place in my heart.

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

I saw the movie when I was a little, and now your review really makes me want to read the book. I'm curious to see how the author sprinkled humor while handling sensitive issues.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Mrs. Q - This was my first of Flagg's books.

Jillian - The movie was what made me want to read it.

Alex - That will have to be my next book of her's.

Jenners - That's hilarious. There's nothing like a bad book club to take the fun out of reading.

Care - It's one of the few times that I think the movie adaptation is actually really good.

Captain - Thank you, it's definitely one I loved.

Darlyn - It's a hard balance to maintain, but she does it.