Author (and narrator): Fannie Flagg
Publisher: Random House 2013
I’ve been “reading” a lot of audiobooks. I particularly like the ones where the author reads her/his own work. There’s an occasional dud, but usually I like how they come across. It’s the way I think they came out of the author’s head. It feels personal. Such was the case with Fannie Flagg’s latest novel. From the very beginning, her voice alone made me smile in anticipation of the fun ahead.
Before I go any further let me share the description of the story (from the publisher):
Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with is her mother, the formidable Lenore Simmons Krackenberry. Lenore may be a lot of fun for other people, but is, for the most part, an overbearing presence for her daughter. Then one day, quite by accident, Sookie discovers a secret about her mother’s past that knocks her for a loop and suddenly calls into question everything she ever thought she knew about herself, her family, and her future.
Sookie begins a search for answers that takes her to California, the Midwest, and back in time, to the 1940s, when an irrepressible woman named Fritzi takes on the job of running her family’s filling station. Soon truck drivers are changing their routes to fill up at the All-Girl Filling Station. Then, Fritzi sees an opportunity for an even more groundbreaking adventure. As Sookie learns about the adventures of the girls at the All-Girl Filling Station, she finds herself with new inspiration for her own life.
Nobody creates characters quite like Fannie Flagg. She made my heart ache for Sookie, the main character. Sookie tried so hard to please everyone, especially her mother. Then this bombshell is dropped in her lap and she scrambles to handle it all.
The other thing Fannie Flagg does so well is tell a story that is complete with layer after layer of characters and culture. And – she does this while also telling us a story with flashbacks to another era. In this particular novel the reader gets a full-bodied story of present day Alabama and World War II era Wisconsin, with lots of characters, story lines and details from both eras.
Fannie Flagg was the reader/narrator on the audiobook, but it felt more like she was simply telling me the story. Even though the author is also an actress, her voice is not your normal, professional-reader style. It’s a bit high-pithed, but with a wonderful Alabama accent. I listened to this over the course of several afternoons (it’s nearly eleven hours long) and by the end I felt like Fannie Flagg, in the form of Sookie Poole, was one of my good friends.
As you can see, I’m recommending this audiobook, especially to those of you who already love Fannie Flagg. If you’ve missed out on her previous books, I’d suggest starting with Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Or – see the movie version. Then come back to read/listen to The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.