For many years, this was my go-to title when someone asked me for a book recommendation. When it was published in 1987 not everyone had heard about it (this was long before celebrity book clubs and relentless social media attention). Recommending books can be tricky. Reading preferences, mood, previous mis-conceptions – all can affect how a person will feel about a book. And just because you thought a book was the best ever written, doesn’t mean someone else will feel the same. But this book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, never failed me. Not once. Everyone loved it.
And why not? It has a little bit of everything – family and friendship, an epic love story, a murder mystery, some grief and heartbreak and lots of joy. Also – food. Lots of great food.
Moving between two time periods – the 1930s and the 1980s – this book centers on a small town in Alabama and the Whistle Stop Cafe. In the 1930s the cafe serves excellent Southern-style home cooking, especially fried green tomatoes. It’s also the center of town activities, gossip and news. The people that frequent the cafe form a bond that supports one another through terrible tragedies and protect their own. Flash forward to the late 1980s where we meet Evelyn who is struggling with mid-life depression. Through her friendship with elderly Mrs Threadgoode and her stories about the Whistle Stop Cafe and the people around it, Evelyn begins to see her way through her own tragedies.
After the movie came out in 1991, the book became less of a sure-fire winning book recommendation. Many thought that if they’d seen the movie they didn’t need to read the book. But, as is usually the case, the book is much better than the movie with more background, more stories and a deeper understanding of the characters and their motives. So once again, I wholeheartedly recommend reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – you’ll love it.
If you are taking part in the Online Reading Challenge this year, this book is a perfect choice for our June theme of food and friendship.