My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Bookshelves: women, chick-lit, southern-writers, americana
I discovered Fannie Flagg after falling in love with the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. When I learned she had also written the screenplay, I figured the movie had to be pretty close to the book. I loved that book, devoured it in almost a single day, aided the summer windstorm that knocked our electricity out for about 36 hours so I had nothing else to do, and fortunately I’d bought a paper copy. Loved it.
Alas, I Still Dream About You, not so much. It was good, don’t get me wrong; 3 stars mean I liked it just fine. But I didn’t love it.
This is the story of Margaret Fortenberry, elected Miss Alabama the same year as the Birmingham race riot, and determined to win back some decency cred for her state. Problem is, forty years after the fact she just cannot get over herself having been Miss Alabama, and she’s a bit whiny. She’s also nice. Incredibly nice. I’ve never met anyone as thoroughly nice as Margaret Fortenberry. Maybe it’s a Southern thing. She is also, as it happens, planning her suicide, so meticulously that her body will never be found, very considerately leaving no mess for anyone else to clean up. Did I mention how very nice she is?
She is also determined that no one will have to deal with her possessions, so she gives them all away, but circumstances keep arising so that she has to push back the date at the last minute, leaving her with no clothes to wear as she deals with these various circumstances, not even an aspirin to take for the headaches they give her, and a “To Whom It May Concern” letter with the date whited out and rewritten several times. It gets comical.
Flagg deftly writes Maggie’s despondency and the dark cloud of suicide with a lightness that is not at all grotesque–it’s almost whimsical. The biggest problem I had was that the plot didn’t really thicken until almost halfway in, when things really heat up, helped by the discovery of a real live–well, no, dead actually–skeleton in the attic. Dressed in a kilt. The second half of the book moved right along.
Extra points for one of the best antagonists-you-love-to-hate I’ve ever read.
So no, it’s no Fried Green Tomatoes, but it’s still worth the read.