The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion
Beloved author Fannie Flagg has written another delightful saga spanning decades and focusing on the Southern theme of family. Mrs. Sarah “Sookie” Poole, a caring, exhausted mother, has just married off the last of three daughters. Craving downtime, she plans to unwind, actually reading a whole book for a change. Before she can take her second deep breath, she is summoned by her eccentric, widowed 88-year-old mother, Lenore, who has ruled Sookie’s life, pushing her into activities that will “honor the Simmons name.” All because they survived the Civil War by going hungry and hid the family silver from those Yankee thieves so their descendants could carry on the heritage.
Lenore’s outspoken and flamboyant ways cause social friction, but her loyal daughter comes wearily to the rescue. One day a certified letter arrives, which Sookie signs for. It is from a strange address in Texas and contains medical records revealing a secret Lenore has been keeping from her daughter. Reluctantly scanning the contents, and not believing her eyes, Sookie faints from the shock. As she discovers the secret of her birth, her horizons are broadened immensely, opening her comfortable world to the vastly different person she really is.
Fannie Flagg’s novel is storytelling at its best, with wonderfully diverse characters and historical events such as immigration at the dawn of the 20th century, the rapid expansion of America due to car travel, and proliferation of the ubiquitous filling stations. Then World War II opened up a unique job for brave women in the military service, which was suddenly brought to a halt and kept secret for decades. Flagg’s people touch our hearts, poke our funny bones, and remain in our minds for some time after the final page.
363 (US), 368 (UK)