‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’ by Fannie Flagg

A while ago my friend Vanessa pointed me into the direction of the Fried Green Tomatoes movie and I loved it. She called Idgie Threadgoode the ‘tomboy to end all tomboys’ and I have to agree. The movie is cute and has a great cast. And yes, I broke my own rule of reading the book before watching the movie. Not the first time and certainly not the last but that’s not the point here.

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I finished reading the book and I have to say, it’s pretty great, mostly because there is a lesbian relationship in the book set in the 1920s-1950s in Alabama and nobody has any objections to it. That’s crazy! I mean, they never really call it a sexual relationship in the book but you can tell that’s what it is. Idgie’s mom even calls Idgie’s feelings a crush when Ruth is first staying with the Threadgoode family back when Idgie is still a teenager.

The story is told through lots of different points of views and it may be confusing to some people though I found it charming and also very fitting. There is Evelyne who by accident meets Ninny Threadgoode in a nursing home in the 1980s. Ninny starts talking about the Threadgoode family and life in Whistle Stop, this little town right by the train tracks.

We also get direct anecdotes from the times as well as newspaper clippings from the various towns and cities this novel is about. I loved it, even though there were parts I liked more and others less but that’s normal.

Life in Whistle Stop is such an interesting depiction of the time back then because it’s a rather small community and even though the racial war is still going strong, especially in the south, the coloured people are treated with respect from most of the people living in Whistle Stop, especially Idgie and Ruth. But it’s not just race, also social differences; Idgie makes sure all the hoboes that come to her cafe eat. I love how this shows an important grey area that reminds me so much of the way WW2 Germany needs to be shown. There isn’t just black and white, Nazis and Jews, rich and poor; there are lots of grey tones in there. Just because you lived in the south at that time, doesn’t mean you treated coloured folks badly. Just as it doesn’t mean every German in the 1940s was a Nazi. There is so much more to those things than simple stereotypes can ever show.

There’s a lot of love and heart string pulling material in this book and I get why some people read it over and over because it’s beautiful and warm and great. Even when life is hard, there is still community to get you through it. So if you haven’t already read this novel, I heartily recommend you rectify this immediately!

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