Thank You to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with an advanced copy of Fannie Flagg's novel, The Whole Town's Talking, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- The Whole Town's Talking is Flagg's latest novel in her Elmwood Springs series. This novel traces the history of Elmwood Springs, from its founding by Swedish immigrants in the late 1800's to the present day. When the original settlers of the town created a cemetery on the top of a nearby hill, little did they know that they would continue living in Elmwood Springs in their afterlife, stuck in the cemetery, but interacting with one another, and waiting for the living to make their visits. Afterlife seems a mostly peaceful and happy continuance of their life in their beloved town, except for occasionally the dead disappear from the cemetery. No one knows why they leave, when it will happen, or where they go?
LIKE- In previous reviews, I've compared Flagg to Garrison Keillor. I still feel this comparison is valid with her latest novel. Flagg has a way of just reporting the news, telling the reader all of the bits and pieces of small town living. This isn't a fast-paced story, or one with any huge drama, it's more of a slice-of-life tale. I like how Flagg builds a domino affect with how she shows previous generations affecting the current generation, and how various decisions, (local, societal, global), impact and change this small town.
The mystery of the disappearing dead people kept me intrigued and guessing until the very end. The epilogue explains the disappearance is a way that is just plain lovely. It had me hoping that Flagg's version of the afterlife, is what is awaiting after death. It's a hopeful and beautiful sentiment. It is also not at all what I had been guessing, which made the epilogue even sweeter. I finished reading with a smile.
DISLIKE - I may have misunderstood, but I didn't quite understand the "story rules" of the dead in the cemetery. Sometimes it seemed like they physically couldn't interact, like they could only speak from their graves, however, there were also times where Flagg describes how they see one another. What were the physical boundaries of their world? The story build here was not strong enough for me to get a clear idea of cemetery life, although I did like the general concept of it.
RECOMMEND- If you're a fan of Flagg's previous stories, yes. The Whole Town's Talking is a heart-warming story, perfect for a chilly autumn weekend. I had been reading a lot of very heavy, dark books, so it was nice to have a change of pace with Flagg's novel.