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

 

Title: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Author: Fannie Flagg

Published: Chatto and Windus: Random House AU November 2013

Status: Read from November 15 to 17, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy Anna at the ReadingRoom and Random House}

My Thoughts:

I adore Fannie Flagg’s southern fiction, and was thrilled to learn of a new release. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a heartwarming tale of family, idenity and flying.

Sookie (Sarah Jane) Poole is a timid fifty nine year old wife and mother in Pt Clear, Alabama. She has never doubted who she is, despite being a continual disappointment to her mother, the imperious Southern matriarch Lenore Simmons Krackenberry, until she accidentally learns her mothers darkest secret.

The dual narrative alternates between the fallout of Sookie’s discovery as she struggles to reconcile what she has always believed to be true with what her mothers secret reveals, and the fascinating story of the Jurdabralinski sisters of Wisconsin, to whom Sookie learns she is connected.

Sookie’s identity crisis has her questioning the issue of nature versus nurture, wondering what might have been, had things been different. Though I thought perhaps her angst dragged on a bit too long, there is also a lot of humour and warmth in Sookie’s journey, and of course in the sharing of the eccentricities of her Southern Belle mother and the benefits and pitfalls of small town living.

I was, however, always most eager to get back to the story of the Jurdabralinski’s, a hardworking, Polish immigrant family of four daughters and one son. Fritzi, the most adventurous and unconventional of the girls, forges an extraordinary career as an aerial wing walker after being swept off her feet by a handsome but roguish stunt flyer. Unfortunately the war interrupts her career and she returns home where she is faced with the challenge of rescuing her family’s gas station business while their father is recovering from TB and her brother in serving in the military. At Fritzi’s suggestion, the four daughters of the family take over and manage to keep it profitable by exploiting the novelty of the girls being in charge…hence the title of the novel.
As the war drags on, Fritzi is finally given the chance to fly again when, due to the lack of manpower available, women were reluctantly recruited by the military to assist in the war effort, transporting goods, including the planes themselves around the country. Eventually three of the Jurdabralinski sisters become fly girls,
I was fascinated by this element of the novel, the WASP’s, despite skepticism, and sometimes outright opposition, proved they were more than capable of providing crucial assistance to their country, but were never given official recognition by the powers that be and were summarily dismissed when the war finally ended. I love that Flagg has given recognition to this group of unsung heroines.

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a charming story combining southern humour and eccentricity with a fascinating tale of adventure and heroism. Flagg is a wonderful storyteller and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this delightful novel.

Available To Purchase From

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 03:03:58

    I loved this one, too…and while I enjoyed both storylines, it was fascinating to join in with those feisty fly girls. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  2. Robin Nolet
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 04:28:25

    This definitely sounds like a book I’d enjoy. I’ve been a big fan of Ms. Flagg’s books in the past, plus I spent a great deal of my childhood in Wisconsin! Sounds like the perfect book for me!

    Reply

  3. Kailana
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 02:44:26

    I haven’t read Fannie Flagg in ages! I used to all the time, but she just fell off my radar. I had heard of this one, though, and hope to read it at some point. :)

    Reply

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