If you could describe yourself in 3 sentences, what would you say? Dena Nordstrom’s problem when asked that question by her psychiatrist is that her answers only expressed her image (an up and coming TV journalist) and nothing else.
Once again, author Fannie Flagg’s main character is an ambitious, beautiful woman with a sad childhood and backwards priorities. Dena is a confident newscaster who leapfrogs from local weather girl to a young Diane Sawyer within a few years. Admired by both men and women, her job is her life until that nosy busybody called “conscience” starts to emerge. Next comes the biological response: panic attacks and ulcers. Her physician’s advice? Talk to a shrink or go on complete bed rest.
The solution for a workaholic like Dena is a no-brainer, so she begins sessions with Dr. Gerry O’Malley, who then passes her off to hypnotherapist Elizabeth Diggers.
Meanwhile, people from Dena’s youth remember her fondly and pray for her return to Elmwood Springs, Missouri. A college roommate, neighbors, and distant relatives follow Dena’s career and public life, worrying and wondering what the frantic pace could be doing to her. They know that going home would be the best thing for her. But will she?
Fannie Flagg again shows her tremendous gift of storytelling in this novel. She has a talent for making her writing light and fun yet the characters’ feelings deep. Her character development is superb, and done in such a way that other writers should take notice. Having previously finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which also dealt with a myriad of characters (somewhat forgettable) and different time periods (somewhat confusing), Fannie Flagg’s books are an example of how this can be done successfully. Her formula is simple, really. Each chapter begins with the date when it is set and is devoted to a specific character. Eventually you know them all so well that, when they start to come together, it isn’t confusing and they are like old friends. Some are friends you care about and some are friends whose lives have meandered down a path of darkness and deserve some come-uppance.
I feel like finding this author is like hitting a gold mine, and I intend to continue reading her books until I’ve read them all. They are treasures.
9.5 out of 10 stars