Caveat: I’ve long been an unabashed fan of the irrepressible Fannie Flagg so this review will be a positive one. Ever since Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café I ve found her work not only enjoyable but irresistible. Same goes for The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion but with an added plus as it’s read by Ms. Flagg herself - what a joy to hear the story told in her own voice!
Having seen the last of her daughters walk down the aisle Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, anticipates rest, relaxation and perhaps a trip with her husband, Earle. There’s only one obstacle in her way and that is a formidable one - her mother, 88-year-old Lenore Simmons Krackenberry who is quick with criticism, frequently mentions her expectations of Sookie, while constantly poking her nose into Sookie’s life. This is all very easy for Lenore to do as she lives just two houses away.
Sometimes help comes in a surprising way - for Sookie it came in the form of a mysterious phone call telling her she is not who she thinks she is, not at all a Southern belle nor the daughter of the overbearing Lenore but the offspring of a Polish unwed mother named Fritzi.
This unexpected news disorients Sookie to the extent that it takes her some time to tell her children she is adopted. Then Flagg flashes back in time to a small Wisconsin town where Fritzi’s father is an immigrant. It’s a town full of hard working Polish folk - men who farm and women who keep immaculate houses. Fritzi’s sisters know no fear so they all learn to fly from a barnstorming pilot. During World War II they join the WASPs. Fritzi loves the pilot who taught her to fly but marriage is not anywhere on his agenda.
A return to the present brings us back to Sookie who looks for her real mother. Anyone who has read a Flagg book knows there will be a happy ending, and what fun it is getting there.
- Gail Cooke