My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
After reading, and watching, Fried Green Tomatoes, I knew that I wanted to read another Fannie Flagg book. I took my time picking just the right one, and when I spotted this one, I just knew it would be the one to read.
The book starts off a bit on the slow side as we are introduced to one of the main characters, a retire aged woman who is perhaps a bit too obsessed with feeding birds. And then we meet Sookie’s mother, Lenore, who is so over the top at all times it was hard to really digest her character. Things continue to be slow for the first few chapters of these two ladies.
Luckily, things pick up a bit after this. The story blends two stories, one set in the present day (2005 to be precise), focusing on Sookie and the other is about a family in Pulaski, Wisconsin just before and then during World War II. The transition between past and present were well done. The story weaving was quite fun to experience, and while the twists along the way added a nice bit to the story, seeing how the developed was better than the twists themselves.
As far as characters go, I felt a fairly good connection to Sookie. As someone who deals a lot with self-doubt and an overbearing mother, I could feel a bit of a kinship with the older woman. Lenore was, kind of unpleasant to read, she just had that annoying air about her. Thankfully her role in the book was fairly small. Marvaleen, a friend of Sookie’s, was a quirky addition to the book. Though admittedly, I kind of wanted to see the woman she constantly mentioned, Enda Yorba Zorba, in the book cause that would have been interesting for sure. The rest of the characters from the present day section of the book were small support characters and didn’t really stand out as anything special, other than to help Sookie’s story line progress at times.
The main star of the WWII era from the book was Fritzi. She definitely pushed against the boundaries of what woman did in that time period, at least in the parts before the war. This made her, essential, a polar opposite to Sookie. Her sisters and brother, along with her parents, played minor roles as well, but like the above character didn’t really speak out enough to give me much to write about them.
It did take a really long time to make any reference to an all-girl filling station, which I found a bit disappointing given the books title. I expected that to play a much bigger role within the story. In fact, there wasn’t really much of a reunion in the book either, unless you count that one tiny chapter.
Regardless, I quite enjoyed this story and burned through it in a couple of days. While it is no Fried Green Tomatoes, this book does stand out as having a nice little story that melds past and present together well. It also brought the reader to the attention of the WWII WASPs, which were a group of female pilots. I honestly had never heard of them until I had read this book.