A feel good novel of the best type

Fannie Flagg is perhaps best known for her brilliant novel Friend Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. I have read that and a few of her others. Although they often deal with real life problems in this world her books are always feel good and invariably enjoyable. Usually set in the Southern states of America they are stories about women and the challenges they face in life.

The heroine of I Still Dream About You is Maggie. Maggie lives in Alabama and was once a Miss Alabama. Now she’s older and is working as an estate agent. Every day she tries to keep up appearances and act in a proper and courteous manner. She is always fair, always well dressed and speaks well of everyone. She’s also sad and unhappy because life has passed her by and she feels that she has nothing to live for so she is planning her death by suicide. Being Maggie, she is determined to die with the least nuisance to anyone so she builds a plan and starts her arrangements but somehow the time never seems to be quite right; there is always something else she has to do.

Whilst making her preparations Maggie reviews her life and the lives of those around her. She has made mistakes and thrown away opportunities but she also has been in receipt of great kindness, especially from the woman who previously owned the estate agency. She has always aspired to own one of the great houses of the area and when one comes up for sale she feels that she must stay around to make sure that it is sold to the right person. Then, on inspecting the house, she and her partner find the body of a long dead inhabitant and have to work out what to do with it.

This book is funny and insightful. Maggie suffers from reaching a time of life where she feels that she can achieve nothing more and fails to understand the impact that she has on those around her. As she learns to drop her standards a bit she realises that she can still enjoy life and that maybe she will get to do some of the things she has always wanted to do after all.

This is a book about seizing your opportunities and appreciating what you have but these messages are not given in a sentimental way. This is not a sugary/sweet book despite the ultimately happy ending. It’s a book about being yourself and being proud of it. Maggie is a delightful character who I came to adore despite her values often being different from mine. The world could perhaps do with more courtesy, kindness and acceptance as modelled by Maggie.

This book is an absolute delight. It is witty and funny and often unexpected. If you haven’t read anything by Fannie Flagg I suggest that you try one of her novels.

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