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 Fiction Review    

 
Standing in the Rainbow
by Fannie Flagg
Random House, 2002
Hardcover, $25.95 (494pp)
ISBN: 0-679-42615-9

 

 
 

Set between 1946 and 2000 in Elmwood, Missouri, Fannie Flagg's Standing in the Rainbow revisits middle America and the charms of small town living.

Neighbor Dorothy broadcasts a daily radio show from her home. Known as "the lady with the smile in her voice," she keeps everyone in her community, as well as the surrounding areas, informed of local news. Mother Smith (her mother-in-law) plays the organ for the show acting as foil and confidant.  To their embarrassment, her children Anna Lee and Bobby's secrets are often leaked to the listening audience.  On at least one occasion, an author traveling through Missouri gets a good review from  Neighbor Dorothy and finds himself on the New York Times' bestseller list upon his return to the city.  Her husband, Doc (the town pharmacist) never knows who'll be in his house when he gets home, but he finds all the activity a pleasant release after a day dealing with his customers' ailments. 

While the residents of Elmwood may live in a small town, they don't have dull lives. Like everyone else in America, they were affected by the great changes in the country between the '40s and the present. 

Fannie Flagg's great strengths are her ability to keep a story moving and create memorable characters. Standing in the Rainbow includes : Norma and Macky Warren who recreate Norma's parents's marriage with happier results; Betty Raye, who unbeknownst to her outgoing family was switched at birth; the colorful Hamm Sparks, tractor salesman turned politican; the Oatman Family Southern Gospel Singers who have contacts all over the Southern gospel circuit (watch for cameos!); and many other townsfolk. 

As in her earlier novels, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and Welcome to the World, Baby Girl, the author has created a novel balancing laughter and tears. 

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews 

 

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