Thursday, January 28, 2010

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

I enjoy talking to other people about books so I naturally enjoy book groups/clubs of many sorts. I happened to be talking to my cousin, Jen, who I trust as an avid reader (after all she read 101 books last year), and she recommended this book to me. I wanted a lighter, happier read after I've been reading some more intense books lately. So, I took a chance and chose this book for a book club discussion that I hosted at my house. I even made Neighbor Dorothy's Heavenly Caramel Cake (as pictured by the book in the photo) ~ a recipe from the many in the back of the book for my guests to try. It was alright and better that I thought it would turn out considering baking cakes is not really my strength of talents. Anyway, on with the review.

Elner Shimfissle is living in Elmwood Springs, Missouri and she has raised her family and would really like to live her life the way she would like to in her retirement but there are people in her life who can't help but worry about her, particularly her high-strung niece, Norma. In fact, as Elner is picking figs from her fig tree and in the process falls off the ladder her last thoughts are "I'm in big trouble now...I may just have lost ladder privileges for life." And this is the beginning of the end for Elner. Or is it?
While this book was filled with interesting characters and a few ideas that kept my curiousity going, I don't think it is a book that I'll ever re-read. I didn't love all of the characters which is perhaps what the author was aiming for. I couldn't easily relate to their predicaments either although they were humorous at times. I did feel that things unfolded with a nice pace and that there was closure made with all the loose ends for the most part. But there were a couple of chapters in particular that really bothered me. I didn't feel the theme or the character it introduced added to the storyline at all and was unnecesssary. I wished that it hadn't been part of the story or I might have felt differently about the book in the end.
This book was an entertaining, light read which did give me a unique retrospective of Elner's life. I did enjoy the heartwarming perspective of how the simplest things that Elner did for others were the ones that meant the most in their lives. It gave me a gentle reminder of the importance of reaching out to help others.

A look from the book:

If Elner had entertained any doubts for a second that the woman before her was her sister, she didn't anymore. It was Ida all right.
"Now Ida, " She said, "try not to get yourself in a snit. Norma had no choice. Tot is a good friend. How can you tell somebody something like that and not hurt her feelings? She showed up at the funeral home with her supplies and everything. She thought she was doing you a favor. Norma didn't have the heart to tell her she couldn't do you."
Ida was not sympathetic. "I should think a dying wish trumps hurt feelings, any time of the day."


Elner looked up and saw two zebras, with red stripes that looked like candy canes and with silver tinsel manes and tails, an a herd of tiny little bright yellow hippopotamuses no bigger than twelve inches high, pass right in front of them.

375 pages, Ballantine Books - June 2007, My rating: 2.5 stars


terry said...

this sounds kinda like an upbeat version of The Lovely Bones by ALice Sebold.

if it didn't have those oddball chapters and incidents, would you give it a higher rating?

Trixie said...

I have always enjoyed Fannie Flagg's books. I will have to look out for this one for sure.
Thanks for your review!

JaneGS said...

Sometimes this is exactly the kind of book I want/need. I remember enjoying Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-stop Cafe, and this sounds like more of the same.

Maybe I'll see if the used bookstore has a copy--wouldn't hurt to have it on the shelf.

Good review--I liked the quote!

Julie said...

Terry-I think I would have given it a bit higher rating w/o the stuff I disliked but still only to a 3.5 overall. I haven't read The Lovely Bones yet.

Trixie-I think if you enjoy Fannie Flagg than you'll like this one. I did like Elner. :)

JaneGS-I think it was the type of book I was looking for at this time. I'm glad you liked the quote. :)

Most of all, thanks for reading my review!