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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lilly Faye's Book Review: The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg

Dear Readers,

I've asked my friend Alfie Cat to join me in reviewing Fannie Flagg's latest novel, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion.

Alfie joins us today from his basket. Welcome, Alfie.

Alfie Cat: Glad to be here, Lilly Faye.

Lilly Faye: As some of you may know, Fannie Flagg is also the author of several prior novels, including Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which was made into a movie), Standing in the Rainbow, I Still Dream About You, and one of my favorite holiday books, A Redbird Christmas.

Her newest book, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, has two interwoven plot lines. The current-day story follows Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama. Sookie is contemplating her sixtieth birthday, while exhausted from marrying off her last daughter, and dealing with her own narcissistic, overbearing mother, southern socialite Lenore Simmons Krackenberry.

Sookie's nerves are shot, and small things like blue jays chasing her beloved little songbirds away from her feeders are threatening to send Sookie over the edge. So, when Sookie receives official notice that she is not who she thinks she is, the shock is almost more than she can bear.

The second plot line follows the large Jurdabralinski family of Pulaski, Wisconsin from 1909 through the present day, in particular the Jurdabralinski daughters. From wing walking and piloting planes in a Flying Circus, to running the All-Girl Filling Station during World War II, to joining the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) ferrying new warplanes from factories to military bases around the country in the 1940s, the sisters' story is a fascinating and colorful trip across America and 20th century American history.

Naturally these two plot lines converge near the end of the novel, and all of Sookie's (and the reader's) questions are answered. But what might those answers be? How will Sookie feel about herself once she knows her real identity? Will she ever be the same?

I thought this book was a fun ride. It was just a tad slow in the very beginning, when Sookie was so obsessed with her birds. But the story soon picked up, and I'm so glad I stuck with it. In fact, once I got into it, I wished it would never end.

Alfie Cat: I liked all the talk about birds. I'm an inveterate birdwatcher, myself. In fact, I'm rather obsessed with them, so I understood how Sookie was feeling.

Lilly Faye: Yes, well, I'm just glad Sookie had such a supportive husband. Her mother, Lenore Krackenberry, would drive anyone over the edge!

Alfie Cat: I have to disagree with you on that point as well, Lilly Faye. I really identified with Lenore.

Lilly Faye: Enough said!

Dear Readers, if you'd like to know more about this novel and how it came to be, you might want to click on the link for this 25-minute YouTube video of a Southern Living Book Club discussion with Fannie Flagg herself:

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion would make a terrific summer read. We give it two paws up. Enjoy!

Lilly Faye

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