Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

Southern Fiction is one of my favorite genres - especially when it's well written, when the author is steeped in the culture, when it's summer time for me and I can imagine myself in the languid palm-tree filled South while I read it. The publisher enticed me:
Spanning decades, generations, and America in the 1940s and today, this is a fun-loving mystery about an Alabama woman today, and five women who in 1943 worked in a Phillips 66 gas station, during the WWII years. Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her three daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with now is her mother, the formidable and imposing Lenore Simmons Krackenberry, never an easy task. 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 shocking 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.
In this surprising novel, Fannie Flagg once again delivers a story with believable characters who bring us an inside look at the meaning of being a "lady" in the person of Sookie Poole of Point Clear Alabama, who must deal with the mother of all mothers, Lennore Simmons Krackenberry.  It is Lenore's mission in life to ensure that women know how to dress, drink, talk, work (as in supervise the help), dine out, and raise her grandchildren so that civilization can be saved from going to you-know-where in a handbasket.

This whole premise could have easily become a very corny caricature of  Southern women.  Instead, Flagg turns this into a mini-mystery and a wonderful exposè of a chapter in US history during World War II concerning the WASPS, women pilots who ferried military planes around the world to free up male fighter pilots for the war effort.   These are some spunky women.  These are heroines.  Their quirky, laugh-out-loud predicaments may have some readers shaking their heads in dis-belief, but for those of us who were raised by southern ladies, and who served in the military, this one rings true, rings fun, and rings proud.   A delightful way to spend some summer time reading.

Title: The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion
Author:  Fannie Flagg
Publisher: Random House (2013),  Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre:  Southern fiction; historical fiction
Subject:  Women in military service in WWII
Setting:  Alabama, California
Source:  Public Library


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