Can we just talk about how much I love, love, love the writing of Fannie Flagg? Ms. Flagg’s novels are humorous, well-written, heart-warming, and at times poignant. While I have to claim that FRIED GREEN TOMATOES is my favorite, I love them all (have read them all) and particularly loved STANDING IN THE RAINBOW.

THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING is no exception.

Here’s the overview from NG:

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.

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 trademark humor, 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.


I loved the characters in this novel, and how the story went through different generations. It was one of those books that I just did not want to end. I laughed. I cried. I particularly loved the whole idea of how they all arrived up at the cemetery and could talk to each other and see and hear their families (how comforting is that?!).

As a little girl I only knew Fannie Flagg as a funny lady on Match Game, but Ms. Flagg as an author reveals an intelligence and a warmth and an insight into her person that makes me feel like we would be friends.

This is a great “feel-good” story – a great one to gift for the holidays to those who like to read a book and then hug it close afterwards.

Thank you for my e-copy for review!

Review: “Claire de Lune: A Novel” by Jetta Carleton

I came across Claire de Lune while browsing through the local Barnes and Noble store, with a gift card in my pocket. It looked like an interesting read and I loved the cover, so I bought it. It tells the story of Allen Liles, a young woman who takes a post as an assistant professor at a community college in the pre-WWII years of the 1940’s. Allen is a gifted English teacher, but she is young and yearns to be free of the conventions of her time and not stuck in rural Missouri with few prospects for excitement and variety. Allen feels stifled by her colleagues and the upcoming nuptials of one of the other English teachers. Then she befriends two of her students, the outgoing and carefree George, and the brooding and captivating Toby. The boundary between student and teacher is broken, and Allen seeks to keep their friendship a secret. In time, though, tongues wag, and all Allen holds dear is put into jeopardy.

I really enjoyed reading this novel, which is published posthumously, fifty years after Ms. Carleton’s previous bestseller, The Moonflower Vine. Carleton writes of another era – a time when college professors kept strict boundaries between themselves and their students and when a woman’s reputation could make or break her both professionally and personally. Through the events of this novel, Allen is forced to mature both personally and professionally, and struggles with the conflicting emotions of what she wants versus what she needs to do to keep her job and reputation. It’s a coming of age story, but coming of age in young adulthood. Allen struggles to let go of her dreams and ambitions and following her heart in order to fit into society and to be a productive adult. Where does one draw the line?

Another reason I liked this book was Carleton’s writing. Her prose is so vivid and rich. Her descriptions of the nights when Allen was off running through the parks with George and Toby captured the sense of ripeness of a spring evening – the sense of fullness about to burst into full bloom – the awakening of inner feelings. I really enjoyed it. It reminded me a bit, too, of Romeo and Juliet – where all the good things happen at night and the bad things during the day until the final resolution.

All in all, a good read – but not for the reader who is rooted in today’s typical fiction. This isn’t a girl meets boy and then they have an affair story. (In fact, Allen and Toby’s relationship never progresses to that point). It’s a reflection on the choices one makes when one is on the threshold of adulthood, told in a time period when society was much different than it is today.

Review: “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

Since I loved “Gone Girl”, my brother-in-law gave me “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn for Christmas. This is an earlier novel by her, her debut novel in fact, but it has the same fast-paced, can’t-put-it-down quality that “Gone Girl” has.

“Sharp Objects” follows Chicago reporter Camille Preaker as she returns to her hometown and dysfunctional family to cover the murders of two young girls. Camille has never fully dealt with the death of her young sister years ago, and she has never truly met or bonded with her step-sister who is thirteen. The deaths of the two victims are both bizarre and disturbing, and Camille gets far too involved in the investigation. Camille’s own ghosts come back to haunt her. She’s a former “cutter” – carving words into her body. She has a promiscuous past. She has serious issues with her relationship with her mother. The list goes on. The more Camille unveils the darkness underlying the relationships in her town, the more she revisits her own past and inner self.

This book was a fascinating read for me as it felt like both a psychological thriller and a mystery story. Right when things became so uncomfortable that I almost had to put the book down and stop reading, there’d be a reprieve.  There were some disturbing things in here – but they almost always were more hints of malice and depravity as opposed to graphic descriptions.

Gillian Flynn is a gifted writer. I liked this book but I can’t say I “enjoyed” it — I “enjoy” things that are lighter and happier. It certainly stayed in my mind after reading it, much like “Gone Girl” did.

If you liked “Gone Girl” then you will most probably enjoy “Sharp Objects”, too.

Here’s what I had to say about “Gone Girl”:

Review: “The Widow of Saunders Creek” by Tracey Bateman

Through “Blogging for Books” I received a free copy of this book to review. “The Widow of Saunders Creek” tells the story of Corrie Saunders, a young woman recently widowed when her husband dies serving his country in Iraq. Corrie returns to her husband’s hometown and to the home they own and had planned to restore. Her husband’s family is still learning to accept her into the family and tensions are a bit high. Jarrod’s (her husband) cousin Eli, who is also a preacher, helps Corrie with work on the house; but as time progresses Eli worries that he is beginning to have feelings for his cousin’s widow. Meanwhile Corrie is still battling her grief and feelings of loss and begins to believe that Jarrod’s spirit is dwelling in their house. Will Corrie ever be able to move on with her life? And just what is going on in that house??

I have to say – I enjoyed reading this book, which combined dealing with grief, romance, and Christian elements. I found the supernatural aspect (the ghost in Corrie’s house) an interesting addition. Corrie dabbles a bit in local folklore and “craft” by trying to have a séance. She is guided by Eli to a relationship with Jesus. In some ways, this happened rather quickly and easily in the book (one minute she’s having a séance and the next she’s calling on Jesus). I also never quite figured out what the spirit in the house was, though Eli certainly thought it was a demon.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Christian romances and would not be bothered by the discussions of witchcraft/occult in the book.

Thank you, WaterBrook Press, for my copy!