Beth's Book Review

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg

ae2b7d9aa35d35660ad3_Whole_Town_talking.jpg
ae2b7d9aa35d35660ad3_Whole_Town_talking.jpg

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg (Random House, 2016)

 

What happens to us when we die? Does everything stop and our bodies just turn to dust? Or do our souls continue to exist in some ethereal form? Are we able to see what happens to our loved ones; are we reunited with those who have gone before us? This is just one of several intriguing themes that the delightful Fannie Flagg explores in her latest novel The Whole Town's Talking.

The first part of The Whole Town's Talking introduces Lordor Nordstrom, a 28 year old Swedish immigrant who, in 1880, comes to America in order to establish a new farming community in the middle-of-nowhere, Missouri. Lordor, a humble, hard-working man, with a quiet charisma, is able to attract a number of adventurous families from Germany and Norway to assist in building a better life in the New World.

Sign Up for E-News

The most endearing part of the early section of the novel is Lordor's search for a helpmate, which he embarks on through ads in city newspapers. Fortunately, he finds a beautiful, young Swedish woman named Katrina to marry and help him build his family and farm. The story of their tender romance is loving and so respectful that we cheer at each milestone that comes to the couple as their lives move into the future. Lordor, a natural born leader, is proclaimed life-long mayor of the town that he created, and upon his death, his son assumes this honorary position.

As one reads The Whole Town's Talking, he/she can't help but recall the sweet simplicity of Thornton Wilder's classic drama, Our Town. Lordor and his neighbors come to realize that they need a town to support the growing agricultural community. Therefore, they design a village, which, after much discussion, they name Elmwood Springs. A one block town soon boasts of a doctor, a cafe, a blacksmith, and a dry goods store. Honest and hard-working characters move to town, and we learn who bakes the best pies, makes the most delectable fig jam, and who is the most avid gardener among them. We are introduced to a group of people who, like the characters in Our Town, populate an American community with the good and the flawed. We follow generations of the descendents of Lordor and the others who followed them throughout the story.

In the age of modern technology we don't tend to dwell much on pioneer life in rough and rustic times. We don't think about the days when our dairy products were delivered to our doors by milkmen several times a week. Flagg tells the story in such a way that the reader wears a smile through much of the novel, which marches through time by the decades in a sweet and wistful way. However, there are reminders in the narrative that things in America have not always been sweet; there are wars, Prohibition, and the Great Depression. One of the first political matters upon which the book touches is the women in town mobilizing to win the right to vote, and Flagg gently nudges us to remember the days when women were appreciated but not recognized as a major force in society.

Aside from creating the town of Elmwood Springs, Lordor and friends set aside a parcel of land as a final resting place for the townspeople upon their departure from life. Here Flagg adds a touch of Edgar Lee Masters' magical book of verse, Spoon River Anthology, which tells the story of a fictional American town through the epitaphs of its citizens. The dead of Elmwood Springs take on a “life of their own,” and we get Flagg's vision of the afterlife. Observing Elmwood Springs from their graves on the hill is a good experience for the deceased. Ola Warren puts it like this, “At the end, I got to the point where I hated having a body. Everything started going haywire on me, and I started falling apart like an old car.” (p. 305) In Still Meadows pain is a distant memory, but the residents on the hill can still observe the goings on in their community. That is, until they mysteriously vanish from their final resting place.

In true American literary tradition, Flagg's newest novel, keeps the reader smiling, turning pages, and tracing the roots of our country's highest and lowest moments through characters that uplift and remind us of the power of life and the importance of legacy. With great insights into human nature, Flagg's The Whole Town's Talking will give the reader a lot to talk about.

.

Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at trackdak19@hotmail.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

Rutgers Mounted Patrol Makes College Memorable For Pre-Vet Student

July 2, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Ever since a young age, Jaclyn Bird has always been outside riding horses. Growing up in West Deptford, N.J., she followed in her older sister’s footsteps and began riding when she was 8 years old.

Although it was an activity for fun when she first started, Bird has become more serious about horseback riding. She started competing at schooling shows and ...

Castaldo Speaks out about Pay Equity

July 13, 2018

PERTH AMBOY, NJ-  Middlesex County Freeholder candidate Rich Castaldo released the following statement calling out the Middlesex County Freeholder Board over their hypocrisy in regards to equal pay for equal work.  The Middlesex County Freeholder Board is currently involved with legislation against a former county golf manager for paying her significantly less than her male counterparts ...

Learn How to “Ace The Interview” at the East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK—Looking for a new job? East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) is here to help. The library offers a special program called “Acing the Interview” on Saturday, July 21 at 10:30 am, which is designed to help jobseekers.

“Acing the Interview” focuses on what many feel is the most stressful part of the job search process: the ...

Learn About Food Preservation at the East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library and the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission are presenting the special program “Food Preservation 101” at the library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) on Wednesday, August 1 at 7:00 pm.

“Food Preservation 101” covers the basics of food preservation. The program is led by Shailja Mathur and ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts "An Olde-Time Summer Band Concert"

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) is more than just books. On Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm, the library hosts a special concert featuring the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble.

Titled “An Old Time Summer Band Concert,” the concert is a sponsored by the Friends of the Library. The Central Jersey Wind Ensemble will perform a variety of ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts Special Health Day

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and East Brunswick Public Library are teaming up to host a special evening of health programs at the library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) on Wednesday, July 11.

Horizon will be providing blood pressure and blood sugar screenings in the library from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

The program “Brain Games – Keep ...

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)

 

If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...

The Anatomy of Escape by Mike Blue

The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure by Mike Blue (Available on Amazon)

 

Imagine that you could just say, “Chuck it,” and walk away from the bonds that keep you tied to what Mike Blue, author of The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, defines as the restrictive Work-Consume-Die cycle. To most of us, becoming what Blue terms “a ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

5 Things You Should Know About Your Air Conditioner

How an air conditioner works

Air conditioners use refrigeration to cool indoor air. When a liquid converts to a gas, it absorbs heat. This process is called phase conversion. Air conditioners use phase conversion by forcing refrigerants to evaporate and condense over and over in a closed system of coils. 

What air conditioner filters do

Filters remove particles from the air, keeping ...