Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the now-classic novel of two women in the 1980s; of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women--of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth--who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present--for Evelyn and for us--will never be quite the same again...

“You know, a heart can be broken, but it keeps on beating, just the same.”

After catching the movie on Netflix, I was bitten by the reading bug and decided to hunt this one down, see how it holds up, what’s different and what’s better.

I found it to be a charming book of friendship and personal growth. Told mainly through the stories of Mrs. Threadgoode in the nursing home, she goes back and forth between memories, from dull things like her cat and family dinners, to intriguing things such as murdered men and domestic violence.

Evelyn was an excellent character – she was weak-willed, submissive, and being in her head was interesting. If she didn’t change in the end, then I doubt the author would have had the nerve to write about a woman like that.

She was stuck in the proper fifties mindset of what a proper wife and woman was supposed to be, but her self-esteem was fragile and flawed, making a realistic character rather than a stereotype. When she started coming into her own, I was mixed between being amused to being alarmed she was actually losing her mind. Seriously – she was becoming demented from menopause. Thankfully Mrs. Threadgoode told her about those pills…

This is a rare case where the book and movie are on par with each other. There are some differences, such as an obvious closeness between Ruth and Idgie that seemed clearly a lesbian relationship, but most of the story stayed the same.

The book wins with personal introspection and making Evelyn the more interesting of the bunch, but the movie wins with emotional tragedy when it came to Ruth’s ending. In book form it just didn’t carry the same oomph – strangely the murder scene was also downplayed and didn’t seem shocking written down. It read as an afterthought and minor point of the story.

Sometimes my interest failed, especially with rambling of unimportant things, but the quirky Mrs. Threadgoode was fun to listen to. She had a solid way of looking at things, and her viewpoints were expressed humorously enough. There is a change with her over the movie too, in the end, which had a different note of what she brought to Evelyn’s life. In the movie she was still needed in the same role to continue the protagonist’s evolvement, but in the book form she’d finished her work and the masterpiece was complete.

This is 100% chick-lit.

   Book Quotes:

“Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you are two steps ahead.”

   Movie Trailer: