The Whole Town's Talking: A Novel

The Whole Town's Talking: A Novel

by Fannie Flagg

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.

WINNER OF THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE 

Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.

Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.

Praise for The Whole Town’s Talking

“A witty multigenerational saga . . . [Fannie] Flagg’s down-home wisdom, her affable humor and her long view of life offer a pleasant respite in nerve-jangling times.”People
 
“Fannie Flagg at her best.”The Florida Times-Union
 
“If there’s one thing Fannie Flagg can do better than anybody else, it’s tell a story, and she outdoes herself in The Whole Town’s Talking. . . . Brilliant . . . equally on the level as her famous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.”The Newport Plain Talk
 
“Delightful.”—The Washington Post
 
“A ringing affirmation of love, community and life itself.”Richmond Times-Dispatch

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399588297
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/29/2016
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 1,489
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Fannie Flagg’s career started in the fifth grade when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play, titled The Whoopee Girls, and she has not stopped since. At age nineteen she began writing and producing television specials, and later wrote for and appeared on Candid Camera. She then went on to distinguish herself as an actress and a writer in television, films, and the theater. She is the bestselling author of Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!; Standing in the Rainbow; A Redbird Christmas; Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven; I Still Dream About You; The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion; and The Whole Town’s Talking. Flagg’s script for the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for an Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America Award and won the highly regarded Scripter Award for best screenplay of the year. Fannie Flagg is the winner of the Harper Lee Prize. She lives happily in California and Alabama.

Hometown:

Montecito, California

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1944

Place of Birth:

Birmingham, Alabama

Education:

The University of Alabama

Read an Excerpt

Lordor Nordstrom

1889

Missouri, USA

At age twenty-eight, Lordor Nordstrom had left his home in Sweden for America, looking for land to buy. Months later, while crossing down through southern Missouri, he found a large tract of good, rich land with plenty of natural springs, just right for a dairy farm. After he had cleared an area for his farm, he placed an ad in the Swedish-American newspapers for young farmers to come and start a new community and soon others joined him, bringing their families and farm animals with them. By 1880, a small farming community had formed that other people in the area called Swede Town, in spite of the fact that two Germans and one Norwegian (who was suspected of being Finnish) now lived there.

Today, Lordor Nordstrom stood on the top of a small hill looking over the long expanse of rolling green meadows and little white farmhouses below. It was so quiet and peaceful up here, nothing but the sound of birds and distant cowbells. He could see there was a most pleasant view from every angle. Exactly what he had been looking for.

He would donate this land to the community and name it Still Meadows. Walking back down the hill, Lordor felt very pleased with himself. As the original settler, he felt a great responsibility to the settlers who had come after him. And he had just found the perfect spot for their final resting place in the upcoming years.

In the following weeks, Lordor and all the local men cleared the land on the hill and began measuring and blocking out rows of burial plots. Each plot was given a number, written in both Swedish and English, so there would be no confusion. They built a nice wooden arch as an entrance that was carved with flowers and read still meadows cemetery, estab. 1889.

After all the landscaping was complete, Lordor called a meeting out at his farm, and announced that since they were all first settlers, their plots would be free, first come, first served, which seemed to Lordor the only fair way to do it. In the future, any newcomers would be charged fifty cents a plot.

The following Sunday, all the families packed up their wagons and went up the hill to stake their claim with small sticks. Some, like the Swensens, who hoped to start a large family, staked out an entire row of twenty or more plots to provide for the ones already here and those yet to come.

Birdie Swensen was very happy with their choice. She was quite musical and liked hearing the birds and cowbells in the distance. She liked the view as well. She said to her husband, “Look, Lars, you can see our farm and the windmill from here. It will be so nice for the children when they come to visit.” Mr. and Mrs. Henry Knott wanted to look back at the cornfields.

Although the flat area on the top of the hill was rather large, and they could have spread around, most people are creatures of habit. They all tended to pick out spots right next to their neighbors, much as they lived below, Lordor in the middle, under the big oak tree, and everyone else around him. Everybody, that is, except Old Man Hendersen, who marched way over to the other side and stuck his stick there. Someone once said that Eustus Hendersen liked his mules better than he did people, and he had agreed.

“Mules are mean, but at least they don’t talk your head off when you see them.”

Later, after everyone had chosen a plot, they sat down for a picnic lunch. Blueberries were in season, so the ladies had made pies. Mr. Lindquist played his fiddle, and Mrs. Knott played her accordion. All in all, it was a fun afternoon.

Of course, at the time, none of them knew about all the strange and mysterious events that would take place on that hill. And even if you had told them, they wouldn’t have believed you in a million years.

Love and Marriage

Lordor guessed that preparing a place to spend eternity and trying to figure out how many plots to set aside for himself was what made him think about his future. At the ripe old age of thirty-seven, he was still one of the many bachelor farmers living in the area. He hadn’t meant to be. He’d just been busy trying to turn a no place into a someplace. There were five married ladies, who were always at him to find a nice woman and settle down, but finding a wife was not an easy thing to do.

Lordor wasn’t against the idea. A few years earlier, and at their insistence, he had tried to meet someone. That spring, he’d had his hair cut by a real barber, purchased a brand-new pair of shoes out of a catalog, and traveled all the way over to the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. But when he got there, he found out that all the good women were already taken. So Lordor had come back home empty-handed with nothing but the same new shoes and a good haircut.

Swede Town really was in dire need of more women. As it stood now, they couldn’t even throw a decent square dance. When they did, all the men had to take turns wearing a white handkerchief tied around their arms to signify that they were now assuming the role of a female partner. And having to dance and hold hands with another grizzly, callused, hard-skinned farmer had a way of making the real women seem a lot more beautiful, softer, and much more delicate than they really were. Their lack of ladies was causing them to lose good workers as well. After dancing with five-foot-tall, three-feet-wide Nancy Knott, one young farmhand later told Lordor, “When Mrs. Knott starts to look good to you, it’s time to move on.” And he did.

Lordor figured if he was ever going to make another attempt at finding a nice lady, the time was now. He had a new contract to sell milk and cheese to the railroad workers, and his financial future was now secure enough to support a wife. Besides, he was lonely. He wanted someone to share the new house he had just built. But courting a lady properly was a time-consuming proposition, and at present, he didn’t have enough of it. He was short on help, and his dairy farm required him to be there full-time.

At the next barn raising, as everyone was sitting at a long wooden table having lunch, Lordor talked the situation over with his neighbors. Henry Knott, a bandy-legged little hog farmer seated down at the other end, called out, “Hey, Lordor . . . why don’t you advertise for one of them mail-order brides? That way, she comes to you, and no work time’s lost.”

All the women jumped on that notion in a hurry. “Oh, Lordor,” said Mrs. Eggstrom, “that’s exactly what you should do.”

Lordor pulled a skeptical face at the idea, but Mrs. Lindquist, waving a spoon at him, said, “I know what you’re thinking, Lordor, but there’s no shame to it. A lot of men out west are doing it, and there must be plenty of nice Swedish girls out there looking to marry.”

“She’s right,” added Birdie Swensen, who had just placed another piece of fried chicken in front of him. “And if the girl is interested, she sends you her photograph. That way, we can all get a look at her and help you decide.”

Lordor still felt reluctant. He was a little bit shy around women anyway, and the idea of marrying a total stranger made him feel uneasy. But in the end, Mrs. Knott summed it up for him. “You’re getting old, Lordor. Get to it!” He guessed it wouldn’t hurt anything to at least try. So a week later, a small ad appeared in a Swedish-American newspaper in Chicago.

Swedish man of 37 years looking for Swedish lady for marriage.

I have a house and cows.

—Lordor Nordstrom Swede Town, Missouri

A Swedish Lady

1889

Chicago

Katrina Olsen, only five years from Sweden, was a domestic servant in a large household in Chicago. She had been helping clean the kitchen that morning and had noticed Lordor’s ad in a newspaper. She carefully tore it out and put it in her apron pocket. That night, when she and her friend and coworker Anna Lee were upstairs in their room, Katrina showed her the ad.

“Do you think I should answer it?”

Anna Lee looked at the ad with some alarm. “Oh, Katrina . . . Missouri? We don’t even know where that is. There could be wild Indians or bears even. And this Lordor Nordstrom might be mean and ugly.”

Katrina sighed. “I know, but I don’t want to be a servant all my life.”

“No, me either, but I don’t see much difference in being a servant and being some old cow-farmer’s wife. Besides, it’s too much hard work with no pay. No, I’d rather stay in the city and take my chances with the boys here.”

Being a pretty girl, Katrina had gone out with a few Chicago boys, friends of Anna Lee’s, but they’d been too slick and fast-talking for her taste. And, somehow, the idea of working hard on your own land did not seem that daunting to her. But what Anna Lee had said about bears and wild Indians was a real concern. When they had been learning English, they had read all the popular American dime novels, like Trapper Bess and Mountain Kate, that told of all the many perils women faced living out in the wilderness.

But the more Katrina thought about the ad, the more it intrigued her. She knew going all the way to Missouri would be a risky venture. She could be eaten by a mountain lion or worse. But the ad said the man had a house. When she had left Sweden, she had made certain promises, and she desperately wanted to keep them. So it might be worth taking a chance, but she had waited so long to respond, she was sure Mr. Nordstrom had found someone by now. Still, she guessed it couldn’t hurt to write and see.

Dear Sir,

A 24-year-old Swedish lady of the Lutheran faith with skills of cooking, sewing, and gardening and a good nature is answering your advertisement. Enclosed is my photograph. If you are so inclined and not already taken, please send your photograph.

Sincerely, Katrina Olsen

It had been weeks, and Lordor Nordstrom had not yet received one reply to his ad. A lot of girls had seen the ad, but most Swedish girls in Chicago were like Anna Lee. They had left farms in Sweden and had no desire to go back to one. Lordor had almost given up hope when Miss Olsen’s reply arrived.

The Verdict

The day the letter arrived, Lordor brought Miss Olsen’s photograph over to the women as promised. They had all gathered in Mrs. Knott’s kitchen for the occasion. After Lordor handed it over, he was told to wait outside so they could speak freely.

Lordor wandered out to the barn and had a smoke with Mr. Knott, who had also been banned from the kitchen. He had no more than finished his smoke when the kitchen door flew open and Mrs. Knott called out, “Lordor, come on in. . . . Henry, you stay out there. I’ll get your lunch in a minute.” Mr. Knott nodded. He hoped it would be sausage and potatoes today. His wife wasn’t much to look at, but oh, her steaming sauerkraut, her Wiener schnitzel, her piping-hot pot roast, creamed noodles, and apple dumplings.

Lordor walked slowly up the stairs to receive his verdict. He took his hat off, stepped inside, and was told to have a seat while five ladies stared at him. He suddenly felt himself start to sweat under the pressure when Birdie Swensen, the gentlest of the five women, spoke.

“Now, Lordor . . . a girl can be pretty and fool a man, but she can’t fool another woman. Yes, this girl is pretty, but for a wife, you want someone of good character as well.”

Lordor cleared his throat. “Yes, I suppose so.”

“Trust us, you do. And so, after careful study, we all agree. This girl has character.” They all nodded as she continued. “We think you need to answer her letter right now, before somebody else grabs her.”

Mrs. Lindquist jumped in. “Besides, she’s a Lutheran, Lordor. What else do you need to know?”

Lordor was awfully glad to hear the ladies’ opinion. He cared very much about what they thought, but in this case, he hadn’t needed much prompting. The moment he had seen the girl’s photograph, he had been smitten. She was Swedish all right, with her blond braids arranged so neatly across her head and wearing her high-necked white lace blouse with a cameo. And she was very pretty. But it was something else that had captured his attention right away. It was a look in her eye that certain immigrants recognized in one another. A look of hope and determination, almost as if she was gazing past him, far into the future. The day the photograph had arrived, he’d stared at it for so long that when he closed his eyes that night, he could still see her face. He figured that must mean something, but he stopped himself from going too far. First, he needed to have his picture taken and give the girl a chance to get a good look at him.

Oh, Lord. Just the thought of her seeing his photograph filled him with dread. Now he knew how that poor horse he’d just bought must have felt when he had examined every inch of him and looked at all of his teeth before putting his money down. Tomorrow, he was going to give that horse some extra hay as a way of an apology.

Katrina Olsen

November 1865

v, Sweden

The baby had come much too early. A woman named Ingrid Olsen had just given birth beside a lake next to the potato field where she worked. She guessed, by the weight of the potatoes, that the baby girl weighed no more than five pounds. A friend helped Ingrid wrap her up in a torn burlap sack.

Ingrid had already lost two babies, but if by some miracle this baby should live, she would name her Katrina. She knew that winter was coming. And with so little food and a house with such poor heat, she did not hold out much hope.

Ingrid looked down at the squirming little five pounds of blue-eyed life she held in her arms and cried for the child’s future.

In 1865, Sweden was a land with strict class divisions, with no middle ground. If you did not own land, you worked it for the ones who did, with no hope for a different future for you or your children.

Reading Group Guide

1. Page one begins in 1889, when we meet Swedish immigrant Lordor Nordstrom, the founder of a small farming community in southern Missouri called “Swede Town.” Lordor was one of the thousands of immigrants who came to America in hopes of starting a new life, knowing they would probably never see their loved ones again. Why do you think they did it? Would you do it, too?

2. In reading about the hardships Katrina Olsen endures on her journey to America, did it make you wonder what your ancestors might have suffered to get to this country? Do you know who was the first in your family to arrive in America, and when? If he or she had not made that trip, where do you think you would be living today? Have you ever visited the country of your family’s origin?

3. At the prompting of the women in his community, Lordor places an ad in a Chicago newspaper advertising for a bride. Katrina answers Lordor’s ad and takes a big chance, traveling to a new and unknown place to meet a complete stranger. Would you have done it? How does advertising for a mail-order bride in the newspaper compare to the online dating sites of today?

4. The women of Swede Town seem to be very confident. As Birdie Swensen writes to Katrina, “It is not like Sweden here. We do not let the men rule with an iron hand. We are all free American women in Missouri” (page 20). What is it about life in Swede Town that makes them become so strong? Do you think pioneer women like these were the country’s first real feminists?

5. Why do you think that Katrina and Lordor’s marriage was so successful? Was it because they both wanted the same things out of life, or was it something else?

6. Miss Lucille Beemer loses student Gustav Tildholm, the love of her life, because of her position as a schoolteacher and her fear of what people might say about her. Was she wrong to reject him? Do you think we should let fear of other people’s opinions influence what we do? Do you think that things happen the way they are supposed to, or that we make our own destinies?

7. Going to the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904 in St. Louis has a great impact on Mayor Lordor Nordstrom, and on how he views his town’s future. Can you imagine life before electricity, modern plumbing, and automobiles?

8. As the years pass, we begin to meet the children of the original settlers. Elner Knott becomes Beatrice Olsen’s best friend at a very early age, and remains so for the rest of her life and beyond. Elner is always there to help Beatrice through the hard times, and also share the happy times. Do you have someone in your life like that?

9. In 1945 Lordor’s grandson, Gene Nordstrom, is killed in the Second World War and buried at Still Meadows. There, much to his surprise, he is suddenly able to speak with his grandparents, who had died before he was born. If you could, which of your deceased relatives would you like to speak with? What questions would you ask him or her?

10. Poor Tot Whooten, the town’s hairdresser, grows up with an alcoholic father, marries an alcoholic, and ends up with an alcoholic, pot-smoking son who steals from her. Is all this simply a matter of bad luck, or something else?

11. As they become adults, we see that Elner and her younger sister, Ida, are as different as night and day. Elner never loses her love of the farm life, whereas Ida lives in town and strives to be a leader in society. What do you think makes two people who grow up under the same circumstances so different? Do you know any siblings like that?

12. When a big shopping mall is built on the outskirts of Elmwood Springs, all the little downtown stores slowly start to shutter their doors. Later, as online shopping becomes the norm, even the big mall stores begin to close. Does this sound familiar to you? Do you think the big-box stores and the Internet have hurt small-town America? Or do you think it is just a sign of progress, and is better and more convenient for the shopper?

13. Ander Swenson had a suspicion that his new son-in-law, Michael Vincent, was a liar and a thief, but he did not want to upset his daughter by telling her so. Do you think he made a mistake? Or do you think it was not his place to interfere? Can you think of an ex- ample in your life where you were faced with a similar dilemma?

14. The book chronicles the history of one small town in America, beginning in 1889 and ending in 2021. Do you see any similarities between Elmwood Springs and the town you or your parents grew up in? If so, what are they?

15. Macky Warren is convinced that growing up in the 1940s and ’50s was the very best time to grow up in America, and that the country has been going downhill ever since. Another lady thinks that today is the best of times and that the future looks wonderful. In your opinion, what valuable things from the past have we lost? What valuable things have we gained? Are you happy with the place and time in which you grew up? How would you change it if you could?

16. We know that Michael Vincent has his wife, Hanna Marie, murdered, and for a long time he seems to get away with it. But in the end, thanks to some vital information shared by Miss Davenport and with a little help from a crow and a pigeon, Michael finally gets his just desserts. Do you believe that sooner or later everyone gets what they deserve?

17. At the end of the book, we find out that Evander Chapman, the old trapper, has come back as a snail, and Elner Shimfissle is now a crow. Have you ever felt that a deceased relative or friend was visiting you in a different form, like a bird, or a butterfly, or some other animal? Do you think this could happen? If you could come back, what form would you like to take?

Customer Reviews

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The Whole Town's Talking: A Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As only Fannie Flagg can tell a story , sweet,tender,funny and completely readable,this story will touch your heart
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in two marathon sittings. As soon as I opened it, it grabbed my attention. Ms. Flagg ' s prose is simple and the story line easy to follow . Her characters are likeable, diverse, and realistic. But the premise is amazing and wonderful. And many if the thoughts and ideas of the residents of the cemetery are profundity and provacative. I look forward to discussing this book with my book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A sweet book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book until the ending. It was a bit of a let down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun fun fun cold not stoop reading nprma mmmarych;7 2017
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
The Whole Town’s Talking is the latest book by Fannie Flagg. The Whole’s Town Talking takes us from the town’s inception in 1880 through 2021. We get to see Lordor Nordstrom arrive from Sweden and start his dairy farm. The various settlers that join him in Southern Missouri and slowly create a town called Swede Town (in the beginning). They are more than neighbors; they are a family. Lordor courts and marries Katrina Olsen, a housemaid from Chicago (with the help from the ladies of the town). Katrina is a mail order bride that answers Lordor’s advertisement. Lordor donates land for the town cemetery to be called Still Meadows. All the original settlers receive a lot. They take a picnic up the hill and everyone picks their burial plot. The town slowly grows over time as they add a general store, barber, bakery, and a school. Miss Lucille Beemer becomes the schoolteacher. We see the town change over time as new people come to their town and the children grow up, marry, and have their own kids. The town changes its name to Elmwood Springs and Lordor becomes the first mayor in 1901. Lordor is the first person to be interred in Still Meadows in 1911. It turns out that life is not over when you die in Elmwood Springs and are laid to rest in Still Meadows. To find out what happens in Still Meadows and the town of Elmwood Springs, you will need to read The Whole Town’s Talking. The Whole Town’s Talking is the history of Elmwood Springs from its humble beginning and into the future. The Whole Town’s Talking is not quite what I expected (from reading the blurb). There are many (dozens) characters in the book, and it can be hard to keep them all straight. Some of them are quirky like Elner. Lordor and Katrina are the best developed characters in the book. Elner Shimfissle (what a name) is the most endearing (and unusual). The beginning of the story (the first hundred or so pages) is the best part. After that the story is not as engaging. I did not know that The Whole Town’s Talking was a part of a series (not until I went write the review and did a little research). The other three books are Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, Standing in the Rainbow, and Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven. I give The Whole Town’s Talking 3.5 out of 5 stars. I did feel that Fannie Flagg could have pushed the afterlife section a little further (I am trying not to give away any spoilers). It was not as magical or special as it could have been. The epilogue was strange and the ending was a letdown. The Whole Town’s Talking seemed to be lacking Fannie Flagg’s usual sass (or spark) and humor (that can be found in her earlier works).
Anonymous 1 days ago
The author weaves a very amazing bibliography of an imaginary town called "Elmwood Springs" She uses stories of various people living in the town covering the time beginning in the 1700 's to the present. Thanks for a unique read. Joan Moreland
Anonymous 9 days ago
Intriguing and just plain wonderful.
Anonymous 14 days ago
I love Fannir Flagg & this book is no exception. So much fun, so nice to think of passing in this way. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love+all+of+her+books.+She+is+an+exceptional+writer.+You+start+and+can%27t+stop.+I+hope+the+story+continues+and+Ms.+Flagg+never+stops+writing.%0AIf+you+have+read+her+other+books+this+is+a+must+read%21%21%21
TN1796 More than 1 year ago
If there's one thing Fannie Flagg has established in her novels, it is the ability to effectively manage a large cast of characters. Each has unique, distinctive personalities and this one is no exception. As with her other books, she spins a great yarn by blending the down-to-earth with the whimsical. The residents of Elmwood Springs, Missouri deal with a variety of ups and downs while their deceased forebears at Still Meadows cemetery lead equally active social lives. The dead comment on the living while coming to terms with their own lives. In her usual fashion Flagg gives the reader some gentle laughs in portraying a community that feels vital and real. People in the town (and graveyard) care about each other and appreciate their lives while loving deeply. While sometimes the whimsy gets a bit out of hand, the book is still full of people you either feel like you know or wish you did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved all of Fannie Flagg's books, but this one was a huge disappointment. I'm sorry I spent the money on it. The end hit me as a pro-Trump, conservative right rant, more stupid than amusing. Ms. Flagg seems to forget that not ALL her readers are GOP aficionados who want to go back to the "good old days." Those days were not as good as conservatives want to remember them. I don't like propaganda, in any form, not even as something supposedly humorous. The condition of this country brought on by Trumpism cannot be made amusing or entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very unusual book. It isn't about one or two main characters or even one specific plot. It is about the rise and fall of a town with all the peoole who made it what it was from the 1800s through 2020. Very creative and written so wellm it kept my interest but I could have done without the last little bit. That last chapter was just goofy and really didn't fit the rest of the story. Still, an outstanding read worthy of Fannie Flagg. Stephanie Clanahan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another winner from Fannie. Just a great down home good feeling story. You smile, laugh, shed a tear, and think a little. Also, a lot of memories come back. A must have.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
This is not one of the better novels by Fannie Flagg. Flagg's novel spans too many years and reads like the book of Genesis of the Bible. The novel seems to be who begat who, and in the end, the reader has too many characters to remember. Flagg does bring into the novel all the historic events form the 1890's to the 2010's. The majority of the story deals with the town's dead residents talking among themselves that parallels Spoon River Anthology. The story deals with death and how people handle death. The story also centers on love and disappointment, but again too many characters and too long in time. Too many issues remain unresolved.
sh2rose More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book by Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe! It creates its own unique flavor covering multiple generations. The characters are like any small town with their gossip, family relations, and the occasional misconduct found in burgs across the country. Life after death and living life here on earth become the themes. I liked this novel and it kept my interest. It isn't my usual read but there are many good authors to choose from and it's good to step away from time to time. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest opinion which I have written here.
Sassycirce More than 1 year ago
Needed something uplifting to read and this fit the bill. As always Fannie Flagg writes a great book. I especially enjoyed this one as it covered subjects that interest me. I couldn't put it down! I highly recommend reading it.
booklvr916 More than 1 year ago
Another great tale from Elmwood Springs! I enjoyed every moment. From the characters from "Standing In the Rainbow" and " The All Girl Filling Stations Last Reunion": Elmwood Springs is alive and well! I read it in 2 days. Elner Shimfissle Lives!
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. I laughed and I cried and I couldn't put it down. Well done Fannie !!
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
The Whole Town's Talking is a classic, feel-good story, with lovable characters, a quaint wholesome town where almost everyone does the right thing and a rather interesting town cemetery. It is not all proper, it is spiced up with a few down and out characters, like a drinker, a cheating husband, and even a plot involving murder and fraud. It is all told with that typical Fannie Flagg humor and wit we have come to expect. The story takes place in a small town in Missouri and spans from 1889 to 2020. Lordor Nordstrom, a farmer who emigrates from Sweden, buys some desirable land in Missouri which he clears for a dairy farm. Then, he places an ad for other farmers to come settle in this area, which several do, so they can build a community. Lordor decides that every community needs a cemetery, so he designates an area and they call it Still Meadows Cemetery. This is an odd idea to me as the townspeople actually stake claim to the area they want to be buried and take care of it like it is a garden or park. They plant trees, bushes etc. and often come to weed it etc. When Lodor realizes that he is not going to find a wife in the community, his friends convince him to place a second ad in the paper looking for a "mail order bride". The letters back and forth between Lodor and Katrina are delightful. After their marriage, and the establishing of the town, Elmwood Springs, the story continues through the years focusing on the residents of the town through love, marriage, birth, death, war, depression, and even murder. At the same time, something strange is happening at Still Meadows Cemetery.... All the characters you'll meet in this book are people you wish were your neighbours. If you ever needed anything, they are there for you. This is a charming multi-generational story of life (and afterlife) in Elmwood Springs, MO starting in 1880's. It is an enjoyable read meeting these fun, wholesome, quirky characters that takes you back to a simpler time in America. This is a wonderful book for lovers of women's fiction as well as those interested in a lighter view of history. My only complaint is that I was not sure if I liked the ending or not. It is definitely a unique view of the afterlife. Thank-you to the publisher Random House who generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
mkdmom More than 1 year ago
Fannie Flagg is one of those authors who have been on my want to read list for a long time, so I was happy to receive an ARC of this book from Net Gallery to read and review. All I can say is now I know what I've been missing! I absolutely loved this book which tells the story of a small town from its inception in 1899 through the present day. I enjoyed meeting all the towns citizens and following their lives, their children's lives, their grandchildren's lives, etc. I especially loved the fact that when a person passed on that their story did not end there. I really loved how Ms. Flagg imagined their afterlife. This story made me laugh, made me sad, made me realize how precious the small things in life really are. I will definitely be reading the author's backlist.
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
Fantastic. Best one yet. Her books get better and better.
Dianne57 More than 1 year ago
If anyone likes Fannie Flagg or thought provoking, light fiction -I just finished (and turned right around to read it again)The Whole Town's Talking What a sweet and entirely thought provoking book. This is written in very short chapters by many different points of view and spans time from the founding of this town in the 1880's to 2021 and the generations that come from the (Swedish and German)founding fathers. There really is no plot (well two tiny mysteries, but they are more of an aside) and this is written in an almost diary type style with no ones voice any louder than any others. This is simply a novel about the founding, growth, happiness of a town and its inhabitants. Funny at times, sad at others I imagine that you'll be as surprised at the ending as I was and then sent into a what if mood. But I think it's worth it - I may even read it for a third time over the weekend. It is the perfect calming book - no chase scenes or sword fights, no great angst or lust filled sex scenes, just quiet loves and lives lived to the fullest. Not always the best of lives; just the fullest. *ARC Supplied by publisher.
Mimi_We More than 1 year ago
My review for this book is based on the uncorrected copy of this book given to me by Net Galley for my review. I found this book to be entertaining and laugh out loud funny. The story was about a town named Elmwood Springs, Missouri the beginning of the town to just about the end of the town and everyone who lived and died in the town. The story started out telling about Lordor Nordstorm coming from Sweden and joining other people from Sweden and some other Countries. Most of the people were married and some of had children. Lordor felt somewhat out of place because he did not have a wife or children. Some of the ladies in the town talked Lordor to try to get a Mail Order Bride from Chicago. He wrote a letter and was surprised to get a reply and a picture of a very pretty lady who lived in Chicago and was from Sweden also. It worked out just right! They married and had two children, a boy and a girl! The story followed them, their children, their family and their neighbors through wars, through 1800s, 1900s, and right up to 2020 when the town started to be run down. It was a funny story, where the people died and were buried in the cemetery on the hilltop and how when they got there, they were able to talk to each other. Even one man asked if anyone knew who killed him! No one was ever arrested for the murder and it turned out that his death was an accident and not murder. The story kept me laughing and always on my toes of what would happen next. Fanny Flagg is a great author and I have read several of her other books and have enjoyed all of them. I read A Redbird Christmas, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, The All-Girl Filling Station's last Reunion. All of the books are A1 top shelf in my opinion! I would recommend them to anyone who loves to laugh!