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The Whole Town's Talking

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Whole Town's Talking

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    I chose to read this book because the author wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe which I loved. I wasn't certain what to expect, but it turns out to be a heartwarming story of a cluster of families and other individuals over a century. It charts the rise and fall of the town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, and some of the people who play an integral part in its growth and other residents. The novel has very short chapters and includes a number of letters throughout. It begins with I chose to read this book because the author wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe which I loved. I wasn't certain what to expect, but it turns out to be a heartwarming story of a cluster of families and other individuals over a century. It charts the rise and fall of the town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, and some of the people who play an integral part in its growth and other residents. The novel has very short chapters and includes a number of letters throughout. It begins with Lordor Nordstom clearing space and setting up a farm and inviting others to join him in the area. Soon a tight knit group of people who depend on each other grows into a small community, in some ways it had echoes of the innocence and simplicity of the Waltons for me. With the help of the women in the group, Lordor acquires a lovely Swedish wife, Katrina, and has two children, Ted and Ingrid. We follow their lives and others such as the Swensons and Knotts. Given the historical period covered, much of the coverage is impressionistic and if you are expecting depth in the characters, this may not be the book for you. We mostly have sweet, kind and generous people, although there are those with drink and drug problems, not to mention the odd murderer! We encounter highlights of new technologies, the sorrows of war, the moon landing, fashion trends and cultural highlights through the years. As people begin to die, we find that this is not the end, at least not for a while. The dead continue to commune, gossip and follow forthcoming events with an avid enthusiasm. The title of the novel is a newspaper column written by the ambitious Ida which discusses the local social scene and events. This is a good book to read for this time of the year particularly. It is light, entertaining and an absorbing read. I did think it covered perhaps a too huge a time period resulting in a thinner story at the expense of depth, but this did not stop me enjoying it. I can recommend this book as a good read. Many thanks to Random House for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I consider Fannie Flag one of my ultimate comfort read authors. The book started delightfully strong, with letters back and forth from a farmer looking to take on a mail order Swedish wife. But.....I guess I wasn't in need of as much comfort as I thought at the time, lost interest and put it aside. Then yesterday we had cold, hard rains, my basement took on a little water and I was definitely in need of comfort and picked it back up. Better mindset and I found it chock full of the things I I consider Fannie Flag one of my ultimate comfort read authors. The book started delightfully strong, with letters back and forth from a farmer looking to take on a mail order Swedish wife. But.....I guess I wasn't in need of as much comfort as I thought at the time, lost interest and put it aside. Then yesterday we had cold, hard rains, my basement took on a little water and I was definitely in need of comfort and picked it back up. Better mindset and I found it chock full of the things I associate with this author, Quirky plot, a little silliness, likeable characters, well most of them, a few intrigues, always have to have those and just a general niceness and people who pretty much like each other. We are there at the start of the town, and follow the generations down the line to the end of the town. There is also a subplot concerning the town cemetery that was alot of fun. At times it was a bit to sweet, a bit too corny but all in all it was delightful, just what I needed. ARC from Netgalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    What a delightful read! Ha!.....and you'll never ever guess who eats the pie and brings our story to the end of the line.....or so we think.It's around 1880 when a big, tall and blonde 28 year old Lordor Nordstrom arrives in southern Missouri and places his 1st advertisement in a Swedish-American newspaper for young farmers to join him in starting a new community, but it's his 2'nd ad as a 37 year old bachelor requesting a mail-order bride (with the assistance of the town's married ladies) that What a delightful read! Ha!.....and you'll never ever guess who eats the pie and brings our story to the end of the line.....or so we think.It's around 1880 when a big, tall and blonde 28 year old Lordor Nordstrom arrives in southern Missouri and places his 1st advertisement in a Swedish-American newspaper for young farmers to join him in starting a new community, but it's his 2'nd ad as a 37 year old bachelor requesting a mail-order bride (with the assistance of the town's married ladies) that really grabbed my attention and drew me in with the priceless correspondence that ensued.As the story evolves, generation by generation and decade by decade through 2020, the families grow and friendships develop in the town of Elmwood Springs giving us laughter and heartache all while history is being made and the Still Meadows Cemetery is being filled with its residents.In THE WHOLE TOWN'S TALKING, (great title) Fannie Flagg uses her wonderful imagination to once again create entertaining characters and conversations that are heart-warming and heavenly making for an atmospheric fun-to-read novel. (Thank you Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the ARC!)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Sometimes you just need a dose of wholesome and I know when I read a book by Fannie Flagg that's what I'm going to get. We journey through the decades in Elmwood Springs, Missouri starting in 1899 with founding father Lordor Nordstrom and his mail order bride Katrina who build a successful dairy farm and donate land for the Still Meadows cemetery. Lordor is the first soul to be buried in the cemetery and strange occurrences begin to develop. If you want a book that will make you nostalgic and Sometimes you just need a dose of wholesome and I know when I read a book by Fannie Flagg that's what I'm going to get. We journey through the decades in Elmwood Springs, Missouri starting in 1899 with founding father Lordor Nordstrom and his mail order bride Katrina who build a successful dairy farm and donate land for the Still Meadows cemetery. Lordor is the first soul to be buried in the cemetery and strange occurrences begin to develop. If you want a book that will make you nostalgic and remember when things weren't so hectic I would recommend this book. Fannie Flagg always has a message in her books and it's nice to stop and think about what that message is.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg is a 2016 Random House publication. Fannie Flagg tells a whimsical and fantastical yarn centered around Elmwood, Missouri. The story begins with the town’s humble beginnings way back in 1889, and carries the reader all the way through its history, ending in 2021. Lordor Nordstrom is more or less responsible for building the community that will eventually become Elmwood. He marries a mail order bride, Swedish, like himself, starts a family, and so it The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg is a 2016 Random House publication. Fannie Flagg tells a whimsical and fantastical yarn centered around Elmwood, Missouri. The story begins with the town’s humble beginnings way back in 1889, and carries the reader all the way through its history, ending in 2021. Lordor Nordstrom is more or less responsible for building the community that will eventually become Elmwood. He marries a mail order bride, Swedish, like himself, starts a family, and so it begins... Naturally, as time passes, some of the characters we come to care about, must pass on, and when they do, they are buried in the Still Meadows cemetery. It soon becomes apparent that Still Meadows has something going on the residents never begin to suspect. I had no idea what to expect from this story, but with Fannie Flagg at the wheel, I was comfortable trusting her guidance, so I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. The ordinary lives of people are often less ordinary than they appear on the surface and this book gives us a fine example of that. I loved following along as generations passed, watching children grow into adulthood, find their one true love, and go through the process all over again. Love, loss, disappointments, failures, successes, tragedy, and all the stuff that happens in between is pretty fascinating to observe from the sidelines. But, the living are not the only folks we hear from and this was the most poignant part of the story. I loved how many of life’s mysteries were resolved in a light hearted manner, that gives one hope, but also made me laugh quite a few times. While I must confess, I didn’t realize the story had a speculative or fantasy element to it, I thought it was a nice touch. I had a few minor issues, one of which is the super short chapters, which is a long time pet peeve of mine. I also felt as though the last half of the book took us through the decades at warp speed, while the first half allowed for greater character development. The only other issue I had was with the epilogue. I was conflicted by this last development, and would have preferred it to have different, perhaps more traditional spin. But, in keeping with the spirit of the novel as a whole, I managed to keep it in perspective. No matter how offbeat the story is, it is told with a sly sense of humor and with great warmth and feeling. Overall, I found it imaginative and quite enjoyable. 3.5 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    2.5 stars The whole town started talking in 1889, with the arrival of Lordor Nordstrom, from Sweden, to what became the village of Elmwood Springs, Missouri and the conversations seemed to go on interminably until the novel, "The Whole Town's Talking" concluded in 2021. Decade upon decade, the small town's population and its folksy stories multiplied. As its members died, they moved on to the next stage of "being", resting aware and peacefully interacting with each other in the town cemetery, 2.5 stars The whole town started talking in 1889, with the arrival of Lordor Nordstrom, from Sweden, to what became the village of Elmwood Springs, Missouri and the conversations seemed to go on interminably until the novel, "The Whole Town's Talking" concluded in 2021. Decade upon decade, the small town's population and its folksy stories multiplied. As its members died, they moved on to the next stage of "being", resting aware and peacefully interacting with each other in the town cemetery, adding further layers of commentary about one another, gossip from its latest arrivals and chit chat from graveside visitors to the patchwork plot. Frankly, I began to get lost in the noise of all of those voices and bored with the rambling details. I have always enjoyed Fannie Flagg's books but this was a miss for me. ARC from NetGalley &Random House Publishers

  7. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    "And they lived happily ever after." Remember that line from old story books? Well, that's exactly what Fannie Flagg brings back. A classic, feel-good story, with lovable characters, quaint little towns, and everyone doing the right thing. Spiced up with a few naughty characters, a drinker, a cheating husband, etc. but never anything terrible. All told with humor and a clever wit. It all starts with a Swedish farmer in 1889 who buys some land in Missouri and starts a small farming community that "And they lived happily ever after." Remember that line from old story books? Well, that's exactly what Fannie Flagg brings back. A classic, feel-good story, with lovable characters, quaint little towns, and everyone doing the right thing. Spiced up with a few naughty characters, a drinker, a cheating husband, etc. but never anything terrible. All told with humor and a clever wit. It all starts with a Swedish farmer in 1889 who buys some land in Missouri and starts a small farming community that evolves into a lovely town and takes us all the way to the year 2021. All the characters you'll meet in this book are people you wish were your neighbors. Even the ones who talk too much, or get up at dawn, it doesn't matter. If you ever needed anything, they're right there for you. The neat little trick that Fannie creates this time, is that no one ever really leaves that little town. Well, they do eventually, but they stick around for awhile to see ALL their friends one last time. You see after they die and are buried up on the hill, they can talk to each other. Just each other! Eventually they'll move on, but it's a nice peaceful little holding place, some call it "purgatory" if you want a name. But hey, this is fiction, and Fannie can create a nice comfortable place to rest, where everyone feels healthy and can enjoy the sky and watch the birds. Now I can keep going but you'll want to meet everyone for yourself, so I highly recommend you get this lovely book and enjoy yourself. Oh, and spread the word. Thank you Netgalley for the advanced copy!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    The Hook Though I enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafeI had never read another of Fannie Flagg's books until the premium podcast I follow, Genealogy Gems book club facilitator, Sunny Morton chose The Whole Town's Talking . This is not the usual book club discussion format, nonetheless, there may be comments from participants. There is always an interview with the author which provides a lot of insight to the book and its connection to genealogy. As these, books with a The Hook Though I enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafeI had never read another of Fannie Flagg's books until the premium podcast I follow, Genealogy Gems book club facilitator, Sunny Morton chose The Whole Town's Talking . This is not the usual book club discussion format, nonetheless, there may be comments from participants. There is always an interview with the author which provides a lot of insight to the book and its connection to genealogy. As these, books with a genealogical theme, both fiction and non-fiction have sparked my interest, I decided to give this one a try. The Line - ”Poor old crows. They think they are talking, but the only thing the people hear is... “CAW! CAW! CAW!!” ” The Sinker - Flagg has found a unique way to revisit the inhabitants of one of her favorite towns, Elmwood Springs, MO. She explains in the podcast interview that her publisher thought it would be good to write another book about the folks of Elmwood Springs but Fannie said she had killed most of them off. What to do? Well, Flagg manages to do this by going back to the roots of this small mid-central US town. Just the thing genealogists like to do. Trace your ancestors back and then come forward, with families, their offspring,histories, stories, and details of their lives. My reading experience started off very well. I was engaged for about half of the book, finding myself involved with the characters and laughing out loud in places. Like many reviewers here, I found the premise interesting and the story charming. The story begins in 1889 and as it is brought forward to 2021. I really enjoyed watching the town grow from a few settlers into a small, but lively town. As each of the original townspeople die and move forward in time it started to lose its appeal. I began to skim and wanted Flagg to wrap up dangling threads and be done. There are some interesting characters who seemed more snapshots than in depth players. I understand some of these are fleshed out more in the other books that feature Elmwood Springs. There are little details though that make this books special. In 1950, for example, The Fourth of July Parade, besides the bands sirens and horn blowing, the Shriners are riding the parade route in their clown cars. That's small town life. The Whole Town's Talking does deliver some of the same wit and sassiness that attracted me to Fannie Flagg. A unique plot device was plausible and comforting. Living in a small town, I can appreciate the essence of The Whole Town's Talking. Addendum In the beginning of the book, twenty-eight year old Lorder Nordstrom of Elmwood Springs seeks a bride by placing an add in a Chicago newspaper. He catches the eye of Katrina Olsen, a recent immigrant from Sweden. She has reservations and the dime store novels, Trapper Bess and Mountain Kate, with their descriptions of women living in the wilderness aren't helping any. Yes, I had to know. Were these real books? This is what I found. Buck Bukram; Bess, The Female Trapper There seem to be more than one adventure of Bess. Though I did find the second book, I have only found a microform or hardbound copy so far. It is mentioned in several articles including this one Women in the Frontier Dime Novel by Nancy L. Chu

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    "The Whole Town's Talking" is the story of a Missouri farm town and its quirky, loving, loyal, sometimes shiftless - or even greedy and amoral - inhabitants. The book spans the years from 1889 to 2021, during which the world changes dramatically. I'll provide some vignettes, to give you a feel for the story: In 1889, Lordor Nordstrom leaves Sweden for the United States. During his travels, Lordor finds a large tract of good, rich land in Missouri, and starts a dairy farm. An ad in "The Whole Town's Talking" is the story of a Missouri farm town and its quirky, loving, loyal, sometimes shiftless - or even greedy and amoral - inhabitants. The book spans the years from 1889 to 2021, during which the world changes dramatically. I'll provide some vignettes, to give you a feel for the story: In 1889, Lordor Nordstrom leaves Sweden for the United States. During his travels, Lordor finds a large tract of good, rich land in Missouri, and starts a dairy farm. An ad in Swedish-American newspapers attracts other young farming families, and Swede Town is established. Single women are scarce in Swede Town, and Lordor advertises for a mail-order bride. Katrina - a pretty Swedish girl living in Chicago - answers the ad, and eventually comes to visit. At a box social to welcome Katrina, shoebox dinners are auctioned off, and each box's winner gets to eat with the woman who prepared it. The boxes usually go for a dime, but - as a joke - all the men bid on Katrina's dinner, and Lordor ends up paying $10.65 to dine with the woman he hopes to marry. And Lordor and Katrina DO wed, settle down, and have a family. The people in the farming community depend on each other. The women share advice about cooking and child-rearing; the men barter crops and help each other construct buildings; there are communal feasts; etc. So when a mooching, do-nothing couple has been around for a couple of years, the townsfolk enact a plan. The idlers are invited to dinner and - while they're eating - the rest of the community dismantles their house and packs their wagon. The lazy couple takes off, never to be seen again. LOL In the early 1900s the growing town is renamed Elmwood Springs. By now it sports a general store, blacksmith, and grocery - as well as a one-room schoolhouse where Miss Lucille Beemer - barely past 18 years of age - instructs the students. Gustav, a young man who's in love with Miss Beemer, repeats the 8th grade three times to be near her.....and I won't say more because of spoilers. When the citizens of Elmwood Springs die, they're buried in Still Meadows Cemetery, located on a hill near town. However, the residents of Still Meadows aren't as gone as you might think. Their 'spirits' can still converse with each other, and see and hear people who visit the cemetery. Thus, the dead folk keep up with what's happening in town - and in the world. As the book unfolds, many citizens of Elmwood Springs pass away, but they continue to converse and gossip from the grave. Katrina and Lordor's daughter Ingrid - a first generation American girl - means to have a career. In 1922, she applies to Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine as 'I. Nordstrom' and is accepted. When the school's director realizes I. Nordstrom is a woman, he plans to get rid of her - but the director's wife has other ideas, enforced with a stalk of celery. Ingrid is admitted. (Yay!) As time passes, the population of Elmwood Springs increases, and more businesses and restaurants open. Couples court and marry, and - as in real life - some unions work better than others. Miss Elner Knott marries little Will Shimfissle - and is very happy - singing to her chickens, making fig preserves, and being a friend to everyone. Elner even prepares breakfast for Bonnie and Clyde - whom she thinks are newlyweds - when they get lost near her farm. On the other hand, poor Tot Whooten is saddled with an alcoholic husband and two shiftless children who sponge off her all their lives. To make things worse, Tot makes a living as a hairdresser - though she's terrible at the job. Elner's and Tot's stories are touching and humorous. There isn't much crime in Elmwood Springs, but when a Peeping Tom raises his sneaky head in 1937, the Town Council lays a trap. A shiny new quarter, with a tiny spot of red nail polish, is placed near a favorite peeping spot. When 15-year-old Lester Shingle plunks down the quarter for a dozen donuts.....well, lets's just say he reforms his ways. The narrative periodically shifts to Still Meadows Cemetery, where the dead residents discuss current events - such as WWII, the moon landing, cheating spouses, etc. - gleaned from newly arrived dead as well as visitors to the cemetery. Every now and then, a spirit disappears from Still Meadows forever, but no one knows how or why. A troubling occurrence in Elmwood Springs involves Miss Hannah Marie Swenson, a beautiful dairy farm heiress who's been deaf from birth. When Hannah goes to college she meets handsome Michael Vincent, and brings him home for a visit. Hannah's dad is wary of Michael, but Hannah is smitten, and the couple have the biggest wedding Elmwood Springs has ever seen. Unfortunately, Michael isn't what he seems.....(and you'll have to read the book to know more). In 1986, the Elmwood Springs High School band has an adventure. The band wins a competition and is invited to march in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The band families put on a slew of events - including bake sales, chicken dinners, garage sales, book sales, and car washes - to raise money for new uniforms, new majorette outfits, and new instruments. Finally, the band bus - carrying the kids, their chaperones, and beautician Tot Whooten (to do the girls' hair) - is off to New York. The band checks into a motel on Thanksgiving Eve.....and the next morning, the bus is gone - lock, stock, uniforms, instruments, and hairdressing equipment! By custom, obituaries printed in the Elmwood Springs newspaper mention cause of death. But Verbena's passing is a delicate subject, because her toilet exploded and launched itself - and Verbena - through the ceiling. The death notice uses terms like 'fluke' and 'tragic household accident', but everyone soon learns the real story. (Ha ha ha) Towards the end of the century, the town of Elmwood Springs begins to decline as a Walmart is built outside town, a mall opens, residents pass away, etc. - and the book winds down. However, the epilogue - dated 2021 - updates us about the spirits from Still Meadows Cemetery, and it's a memorable tale. There are many more anecdotes in the book, about people who are charming, sweet, grouchy, horrible, and so on. Some of their exploits are compelling and some aren't - and I got bored at times. Moreover, the sheer number of characters, as one generation follows another and new residents move to town, is confusing and difficult to follow. That said, fans of Fannie Flagg - who know the characters from other books - might love this story. You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joyb Animalcrackers

    I do enjoy Fannie Flagg stories and thought this one was just about perfect until the focus of the action changes from the little town in Missouri to its cemetery! I wanted to spend much longer with the original Scandinavian settlers and their immediate family, but by the time the next generation came along we had moved to hearsay and just snippets. One person’s report of World War I was a single dismissive sentence. Whereas the period after has some really well-researched nuggets event to the I do enjoy Fannie Flagg stories and thought this one was just about perfect until the focus of the action changes from the little town in Missouri to its cemetery! I wanted to spend much longer with the original Scandinavian settlers and their immediate family, but by the time the next generation came along we had moved to hearsay and just snippets. One person’s report of World War I was a single dismissive sentence. Whereas the period after has some really well-researched nuggets event to the shift of biggest box office film stars (from Clark Gable then switching to Tyrone Powell) . Narrating the life of a town from its development by early settlers, through the depression and then post-war boom in consumerism and final demise is really interesting. But so much of what is skipped over could have been an enthralling episode in a lavish TV mini-series – in one’s mind at least. It is very good and then very disappointing (and downright silly at the end) because of it having been so good in the early part!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    The Whole Town's Talking begins in 1889 in a little town that will soon be known as Elmwood Springs, Missouri with it's founding member Lordor Nordstrom. Lordor and his neighbors will build and make Elmwood Springs into a thriving city throughout the years but in the beginning these neighbors all learn to care for one another and survive in their new surroundings. As the story continues on we meet many residents of Elmwood Springs throughout the years as the story continues from the beginnings The Whole Town's Talking begins in 1889 in a little town that will soon be known as Elmwood Springs, Missouri with it's founding member Lordor Nordstrom. Lordor and his neighbors will build and make Elmwood Springs into a thriving city throughout the years but in the beginning these neighbors all learn to care for one another and survive in their new surroundings. As the story continues on we meet many residents of Elmwood Springs throughout the years as the story continues from the beginnings of this small town all the way into the current day. But not only does the story cover the living residents of this small tight knit community but the local cemetary, Still Meadows, also has it's share of inhabitants. When I saw that The Whole Town's Talking was from the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe I just had to give this one a try. Certainly a bit different than I'd normally pick up I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this one but in the end I really enjoyed it. There are so many characters in this story having it take place over the course of more than a hundred years that it does become a bit tough to keep track of. I'd say really the town is somehow the main character more than any one person, it's a story of them growing together and becoming family over the years. And for those who are fans of flashbacks to the past and reminders of different eras this one certainly had that. Anything from settling a new town in the late 1800's, going through women gaining their rights, the first airplanes, man landing on the moon and so much more to mark where the story is in history. Overall, a tad confusing here and there keeping track of so many characters but all the little stories from this town were quite entertaining and loved the unique concept in the end. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This Fannie Flagg novel started out so strong, but toward the end I was reading just to end the story and move on. I didn't realize this was the 4th book in a series about Elmwood Springs, Missouri. That could be why it felt so disjointed and pointless. The story follows the town from the founding to the present with residents continuing to watch the rest of the town from the town cemetery after they die. The novel had the quirky characters you expect from Flagg's books, but the plot was This Fannie Flagg novel started out so strong, but toward the end I was reading just to end the story and move on. I didn't realize this was the 4th book in a series about Elmwood Springs, Missouri. That could be why it felt so disjointed and pointless. The story follows the town from the founding to the present with residents continuing to watch the rest of the town from the town cemetery after they die. The novel had the quirky characters you expect from Flagg's books, but the plot was non-existent and the characters seemed to pass in and out of the story too quickly for me to care or remember them when they resurfaced.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    I'm a bit behind on my review, so I'll keep this short and sweet. Charming and nostalgic, in a reminiscing sort of ghostly telling sort of way. The birth, life, and death of Elmwood Springs - small town U.S.A. - Fannie Flagg style; which is to say eccentric, witty, lighthearted and slightly absurd - yet grounded in universal truths. Basically, "The Whole Town is Talking" is the prologue, epilogue, and cameo shorts revisited from the Elmwood Springs series. The title is, both literally and I'm a bit behind on my review, so I'll keep this short and sweet. Charming and nostalgic, in a reminiscing sort of ghostly telling sort of way. The birth, life, and death of Elmwood Springs - small town U.S.A. - Fannie Flagg style; which is to say eccentric, witty, lighthearted and slightly absurd - yet grounded in universal truths. Basically, "The Whole Town is Talking" is the prologue, epilogue, and cameo shorts revisited from the Elmwood Springs series. The title is, both literally and figuratively, quite apt, as indeed, everyone from town (and up the hill) has something to say - from the founders to the last-hangers-on, couples to singles, busybodies to homebodies, young and old alike - including a wise old crow and a simple weedy soul. Yipper, after the first few chapters, there's not much in the way of present tense action, but there's a whole lot of yammering and yapping. Which got a bit tiresome after awhile. Especially regarding those souls up the hill. If they would have, could have, interacted with the townfolk, to some level or limited degree, the story would have been far more captivating. At least, to me, anyway. Still though, mostly enjoyable. There were a few sage moments along with humorous ones too. Nothing like departing this old world by getting shot through the ceiling while on the commode, because your sewer line exploded from too much pressure. Yes, a bit of hilarity. And spunk. And drama. But also, a whole lot of talking. THREE *** Ghostly Good, Yipping and Yapping, Small Town U.S.A., Flagg Eccentric *** STARS Note: Surprisingly, this novel does contain expletives, including one f-bomb and a G-D-it. And I'm not entirely sure why, as most of the passages where they appear didn't warrant it. Humorously, I think, there must be some kind of curse word quota written into writers' contracts these days.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Audiobook performed by Kimberly Farr This is the fourth book about the residents of Elmwood Springs (though it is not listed as part of the series). In this volume, Flagg tells the history of Elmwood Springs, beginning with the 1889 founding of the settlement by Swedish immigrant Lorder Nordstrom, who recognized the perfect environment for a dairy, and encouraged fellow Swedes (plus a Norwegian and a German) to join him in Missouri. Several favorite characters from previous books make an Audiobook performed by Kimberly Farr This is the fourth book about the residents of Elmwood Springs (though it is not listed as part of the series). In this volume, Flagg tells the history of Elmwood Springs, beginning with the 1889 founding of the settlement by Swedish immigrant Lorder Nordstrom, who recognized the perfect environment for a dairy, and encouraged fellow Swedes (plus a Norwegian and a German) to join him in Missouri. Several favorite characters from previous books make an appearance here, most notably Elner Shimfissle. This isn’t great literature, but Flagg spins a darn good yarn. It’s entertaining and full of lively characters – both good and bad. There are marriages, births and deaths. People form alliances and work together to build the town. I like the way world events impact the residents of the small town, and how life changes for them through the decades. It’s a somewhat idyllic view of small-town life, though some residents struggle with alcohol addiction and drug use, and there’s at least one murder. I liked the “residents” of Still Meadows being able to discuss what was happening in town, though they had to rely on new arrivals and the occasional visitor to their gravesites who might talk aloud, in order to learn what was going on. It reminded me somewhat of Thurber’s Our Town. On the other hand, I found the Epilogue anti-climactic; it almost seemed as if Flagg was at a loss for how to end the story. Kimberly Farr does a great job performing the audio. She has good pacing and sufficient skill as a voice artist to handle the large cast of characters. Farr really brings the various characters of Elmwood Springs alive, but I particularly loved how she voiced Lorder, Katrina and Elner.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Blaine DeSantis

    Probably a 3.5 but because I am a fan of Fannie Flagg and her storytelling I round it up to a 4****. Fannie's most recent book take us back again to the familiar surroundings of Elmwood Springs, MO, and host of characters we previously have met in her works. She also has added some new characters who actually are the founders of Elmwood Springs and we follow those founders and most of their families through the years. As with past books, that I have read, she follows a tried and true format of Probably a 3.5 but because I am a fan of Fannie Flagg and her storytelling I round it up to a 4****. Fannie's most recent book take us back again to the familiar surroundings of Elmwood Springs, MO, and host of characters we previously have met in her works. She also has added some new characters who actually are the founders of Elmwood Springs and we follow those founders and most of their families through the years. As with past books, that I have read, she follows a tried and true format of dividing things into decades and hits the high points of the decade in terms of the families. But, as with her other books they seem to falter and the stories get shorter and a bit less interesting as we hit the more recent decades. Some of the decades are only 20 pages long and I would prefer a bit more meat in these sections since she does a marvelous job in getting us there. Most of the early decades cover 50+ pages and allows time to get know the players and their stories. Flagg is a great storyteller and writes in a folksy manner, one that makes her an immensely readable author. I flew through this book, partly because I love her style, partly because of her characters and partly because we were familiar with many of the characters and had heard some of their stories before. Did I like the book? Absolutely. Would I read it again? Most likely, as she has a lot of fun with characters who die and who miraculously "come alive" again in the cemetery and who remain integral parts of her story. I also think that Fannie and I share a love of yesteryear - Americana and about the way things used to be. You can do that and not be an old fuddy duddy because there is nothing wrong with pointing out how things have changed - some better and some worse. But if you are familiar with many, many small towns you will recognize her stories of growth and decay. Of modernization and improvement that changes the character of a small town, and which can also eventually lead to its death. The same with the citizens of such towns. I always tend to reflect a lot after reading her books and she remains a great storyteller, and chronicler of changes in society and small town lives, loves, and virtues. If you have never read any of her books, please give them a try. I might not start with this one, but it definitely appears to be the final chapter of her Elmwood Springs books and characters and therefore is a very good read for her fans and wraps things up in a nice and neat gift-wrapped package complete with a big yellow ribbon. Thanks Fannie, as one devoted fan I cannot wait to see where you take us in the future!!!!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    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 the 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. If you have read the other three books in this series, you will be very familiar 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 the 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. If you have read the other three books in this series, you will be very familiar with some of the characters, but it will not bore you.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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda Hart

    I have been a Fannie Flagg fan, but was very disappointed with this last novel. It has a promising beginning with her quaint descriptions of small-town rural Americana and unique personalities, but it deteriorates into a boring assortment of births, comings, goings and deaths covering the period of a century. It includes a small mystery beginning in the last chapters, however the epilogue destroys any satisfaction therein with its ridiculous assertion that nothing on earth, or ever after, I have been a Fannie Flagg fan, but was very disappointed with this last novel. It has a promising beginning with her quaint descriptions of small-town rural Americana and unique personalities, but it deteriorates into a boring assortment of births, comings, goings and deaths covering the period of a century. It includes a small mystery beginning in the last chapters, however the epilogue destroys any satisfaction therein with its ridiculous assertion that nothing on earth, or ever after, matters as even the bad guys live in happiness and bliss in an eternity of reincarnations. SERIOUSLY?! I think Flagg is trying to be Neil Gaiman, and she fails miserably.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    It all started with a mail order bride, but it's not what you would think... I really enjoyed all of the folksy and funny stories about the members of this small town. The town patriarch ended up marrying the mail order bride, and so the stories began...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    This was my first Fannie Flagg book. I have seen Fried Green Tomatoes the movie and liked it so I thought I would give this author a try. I didn’t notice until I finished the book that it is book 4 in a series. Sometimes that happens to me because I often like to go in blind without reading the blurb about the book. I didn’t feel like I was lost or missing anything but maybe I would have felt more of a connection with the characters if I had read the first 3 books? I don’t know. Nice story about This was my first Fannie Flagg book. I have seen Fried Green Tomatoes the movie and liked it so I thought I would give this author a try. I didn’t notice until I finished the book that it is book 4 in a series. Sometimes that happens to me because I often like to go in blind without reading the blurb about the book. I didn’t feel like I was lost or missing anything but maybe I would have felt more of a connection with the characters if I had read the first 3 books? I don’t know. Nice story about a town. Literally. This book starts out at the beginning of a town forming and even includes choosing a name for the town. It spans across decades and includes points in history, passing fads and so on. All in all a nice, light read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carla Johnson-Hicks

    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 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dale Harcombe

    Lorder Nordstrom, after seeking advice from his neighbours in Elmwood Springs, writes and advertisement for a Swedish mail order bride. The advertisement is answered and so begins a series of letters between Lorder and Katrina. A well as establishing his dairy farm, Lorder also bought the land at the top of the hill which he donated to the community as a cemetery. He named it Still Meadows. The story goes on to relate more about Lorder and Katrina’s family and the other inhabitants of Elmwood Lorder Nordstrom, after seeking advice from his neighbours in Elmwood Springs, writes and advertisement for a Swedish mail order bride. The advertisement is answered and so begins a series of letters between Lorder and Katrina. A well as establishing his dairy farm, Lorder also bought the land at the top of the hill which he donated to the community as a cemetery. He named it Still Meadows. The story goes on to relate more about Lorder and Katrina’s family and the other inhabitants of Elmwood Springs. Being a big Fannie Flagg fan I was quickly drawn into their story of Lorder, Katrina, their family and the town’s other inhabitants. It is quirky, whimsical and I could see, hear and grew to care about these characters. There were smiles and chuckles at times as I read along. The usual gentle observations of people and wit is there. But then the story veered off to Still Meadows and the conversations and re-unions that went on up there. Even though I still had moments of chuckles and smiles along the way, I couldn’t help but wish the story had just stayed with the establishment of the town and its inhabitants. As for the epilogue that lost me completely. This gets three stars because it is Fannie Flagg and a lot of the trademark humorous aspects of her storytelling are still evident. But I have to admit to being a bit disappointed by the time I finished reading this one. I also thought it took too large a slice of time from 1889-2021 so that events and characters were not as dramatic or fully developed as they could have been. Will it stop me from reading the next Fannie Flagg book? Absolutely not! But I suspect even diehard Flagg fans could be a tad disappointed in this one. However the best idea is read it yourself and make up your own mind.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This is the 5th book that I have read by this author. She is a solid 3 stars for me and that is not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned. I like her humor and I like the glimpses she gives into the lives of normal-everyday people. This one started off strong. I was really liking the people, the place and the story. Then it began moving at a fair clip as it covered future generations. I guess, I was so attached to the original story, that as it progressed, I missed those people. Overall, I liked This is the 5th book that I have read by this author. She is a solid 3 stars for me and that is not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned. I like her humor and I like the glimpses she gives into the lives of normal-everyday people. This one started off strong. I was really liking the people, the place and the story. Then it began moving at a fair clip as it covered future generations. I guess, I was so attached to the original story, that as it progressed, I missed those people. Overall, I liked the warmth of the story, so 3 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Radley

    Loved it. Now need to reread Welcome to the World Baby Girl, Standing in the Rainbow and Can't Wait to Get to Heaven. The one downside is that we may never get to read about the characters of Elmwood Springs again and in particular Elmer Shimfissle. Recommended for all Fannie Flagg fans.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I loved this book. As the story progressed, I came to adore the town and its residents, worry about their problems, and just enjoy spending time with them. The characters are down to earth and funny, and it is a book I'd come back to read again.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    “Up on the hill, Lucille Beemer said, ‘Good morning, everybody.’ “Two hundred and three people just waking up answered, ‘Morning’.” Fannie Flagg is legendary, and rightly so. In fact, at one point in my reading of this DRC, I reflected that someone with her power to move people has power indeed; how fortunate that she uses her gift to benefit the rest of us. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to read something that provides a level of reassurance that all has not gone sour in this world, and “Up on the hill, Lucille Beemer said, ‘Good morning, everybody.’ “Two hundred and three people just waking up answered, ‘Morning’.” Fannie Flagg is legendary, and rightly so. In fact, at one point in my reading of this DRC, I reflected that someone with her power to move people has power indeed; how fortunate that she uses her gift to benefit the rest of us. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to read something that provides a level of reassurance that all has not gone sour in this world, and that everything passes, sooner or later. I was fortunate to read this free and in advance thanks to Random House and Net Galley, but it’s one of the very few books for which I’d have paid full freight if it came down to it. It hits the shelves November 29 and is available for pre-order right now. Our story begins with the first residents of what will become Elmwood Springs. Lordor Nordstrom arrives from Sweden, and after months of searching, finds the perfect place for his dairy farm in a pleasant spot in Missouri. The year is 1889. He puts up a house, buys some cows, and then, as a founding father, he decides he will donate a piece of land, because every town needs one thing for sure…a cemetery. “Lordor guessed that preparing a place to spend eternity and trying to figure out how many places to set aside for himself was what made him think about his future.” I went back and reread that sentence a couple of times; it begins our second chapter. Oh my but Flagg is droll. If one were to read this gem with half a mind on other things, nuggets like this might be missed. The years go on, and with brief, colorful chapters, Flagg develops the town, introducing new residents that move in or are born here, and at first it seems as if the story is cotton candy, all fluff and sugar. But just as the impression is formed, it is vanquished, because our author is just warming up. Moments that are poignant, bittersweet, and darkly funny are sprinkled in lightly as we start, because after all, we are new to Elmwood Springs. But the longer we stay there, the more intimately we become acquainted with its denizens and their peccadilloes, and then the more emotional aspects of the story unfold, almost as they might within your own large family or tightly knit community. Flagg convinces me that these people are my people, and her characters are so brilliantly developed, so utterly convincing that even when one of them does something surprising, I understand how that has come to pass. And every time I think I see where she is headed with one thread or another, she surprises me. About a fourth of the way in, someone dies and we find them interred, of course, at Still Meadows. But there’s an engaging twist to this aspect of Flagg’s story: the first person to pass wakes up when someone new arrives and greets them. They may be six feet under, but they can see what’s happening at the cemetery, along with everything that can be seen from the cemetery, just fine. And so the discussions that took place in life continue after death, and the dead look on avidly and wait for word of the loved ones they left behind. As the story develops and characters’ lives are more deeply explored—always remaining more light than dark, and without a single word anywhere that isn’t needed—it occurrs to me that she just may have done it again. Some people like to take gadgets apart to see what makes them work; I enjoy doing that with literature. And so I find myself looking back at my highlights and notes, looking for what, apart from a dry, accurate wit, makes this writer’s work so special. Some of it is an alchemy whose elements can never be described perfectly, taking ordinary Americans and spinning them into gold. But part of it is undoubtedly her deep respect for working people, and her readiness to see redeemable qualities in characters that upon first glance seem abrasive and unlovable: “Ida had always been different. At school, when all the kids used to play church and one would be the preacher, another the preacher’s wife, a deacon…Ida said she wanted to be God, because she was the only one who knew how to do it.” But later, once she was grown, “Someone else remarked, ‘By God, if Ida had been a man, she would have made general by now.” She also acknowledges that once in awhile, someone comes along that no matter what heroic effort is made on their behalf, will never do anything good for anyone. Hey, it happens. The comments that are made by various characters reflect both the character’s outlook and usually, the prevailing attitude of the time period as she rolls the town steadily forward to 2016. And this leads to one cautionary note: as with all of Flagg’s work, it is essential to read the chapter and section headings, which provide context. This reviewer once taught a group of teenage honors students that were unable to make heads nor tails of Fried Green Tomatoes, and I discovered it was because they weren’t reading the chapter headings, and so they didn’t know what the time period was or whose point of view they were reading. Don’t let that happen to you! Finally, I want to thank the author for the kindly manner in which she draws teachers. Fannie Flagg, every teacher I know that talks about books, loves your work. We need the encouragement sometimes, and your friendly regard means a great deal. Highly recommended to everyone.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Giulia

    I enjoyed reading this book. Would I say that it was a masterpiece of suspense with more twists and turns then a mountain road in Southern Italy? No, I would not. But sometimes a reader needs a break from the CRAZY. If you are looking to read something that is sentimental and sweet--I would say look no further than this book. The story goes back in time to the turn of the century and starts with Swedish immigrants that settled and put down roots in Missouri --it then follows through time to the I enjoyed reading this book. Would I say that it was a masterpiece of suspense with more twists and turns then a mountain road in Southern Italy? No, I would not. But sometimes a reader needs a break from the CRAZY. If you are looking to read something that is sentimental and sweet--I would say look no further than this book. The story goes back in time to the turn of the century and starts with Swedish immigrants that settled and put down roots in Missouri --it then follows through time to the present day and even looks a bit into the future past 2016 --always focusing for the most part on the population from that small town in Missouri. I recommend this book. Fannie Flagg has a way with words. When reading along into this book, I would feel my mouth curve upward into a smile many times and turn into bursts of laughter.. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a chance to read and review this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I have always enjoyed a Fannie Flagg story. She has such interesting and wholesome characters. This story takes place in Elmwood Springs, Missouri from 1889 to 2021. Our protagonist is Swede Loudor Nordstrom. He has a mail order bride and eventually becomes the Mayor of Elmwood Springs. Then he dies and Lordor wakes up in the cemetery. Turns out after people die they remain for a while as spirits in the cemetery. The story winds its way through generations of Elmwood citizens. Flagg goes back and I have always enjoyed a Fannie Flagg story. She has such interesting and wholesome characters. This story takes place in Elmwood Springs, Missouri from 1889 to 2021. Our protagonist is Swede Loudor Nordstrom. He has a mail order bride and eventually becomes the Mayor of Elmwood Springs. Then he dies and Lordor wakes up in the cemetery. Turns out after people die they remain for a while as spirits in the cemetery. The story winds its way through generations of Elmwood citizens. Flagg goes back and forth between the living community and the dead one. The book is well written and has a different approach to telling a story with the intertwining of characters living and dead. There is little action and the pace is slow. There is a bit of suspense late in the book with a murder. Mainly the story is about fascinating characters. As usual Flagg displays a wide range of emotions throughout the story. The book makes for a different old fashion type of story. I discovered after the fact that this is book four in a series called Elmwood. Kimberly Farr does a good job narrating the book. Farr is a theatre actor and audiobook narrator.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    This was a quirky, pleasant book that took me several weeks to read. The first quarter of it or so involved me deeply in the nineteenth-century origins of the small town of Elmwood Springs. We are introduced to the settlers who established a village there, and eventually named it, everything centering around Swedish immigrant Lordor Nordstrom and his slow, steady search for a wife. Once he’s married and established on his farm, and the town takes on a name and a slowly growing population, the book This was a quirky, pleasant book that took me several weeks to read. The first quarter of it or so involved me deeply in the nineteenth-century origins of the small town of Elmwood Springs. We are introduced to the settlers who established a village there, and eventually named it, everything centering around Swedish immigrant Lordor Nordstrom and his slow, steady search for a wife. Once he’s married and established on his farm, and the town takes on a name and a slowly growing population, the book abruptly becomes another type of book—more like a synopsis of what might have been a saga or series. The abrupt change occurs around the time that the first settlers die, and turn up aware in the local cemetery. From then on, we get brief snippets, mostly summaries, but sometimes scenes, of the population of Elmwood Springs over the rapidly changing decades of the twentieth century and on into the first two decades of the twenty-first. It finishes with an epilogue that pulls together a mystery set up in the last quarter, and also solves the mystery set up early on when the dead settlers turn up and talk to one another. The writing is vivid, quirky, with a sense of humor, sometimes a sense of sharp tragedy, wistful and observant, and yes, a bit preachy by turns. But I liked several of the main characters so much, sketched in as they were. Flagg’s sympathetic, humorous narrative voice plus the wacky and colorful details kept me picking up the book again and again, even though I’d frequently lay it down to turn to other things. I think it would have been a tremendous saga, but it is what it is—skipping over the surface of several generations of interesting characters, the narrative beguiling enough to be entertaining, off-beat, good-hearted, generous, funny. And a surprise at the very end. Review copy courtesy of NetGalley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mo

    3 1/2 stars 100 pages of wonderful and 300 pages of so-so. It started off strongly but fizzled when the story started to rollercoaster through the years. (view spoiler)[And I thought the ending was dumb. (hide spoiler)] NOTE: On page 431 it is written "For Cluny Brown, who can fix anything". I adored Cluny Brown, and it reminded me to look for some novels by Margery Sharp.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    NOTE: Received as an ARC from Netgalley. A new Fannie Flagg book is always a treat, and I enjoyed this visit with the folks of Elmwood Springs, even if it did take a rather unusual form. I especially loved the “back story” of the town. It’s part of Fannie Flagg’s gift that she can make you feel homesick for a place you never lived.

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