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The Whole Town's Talking

Cover of The Whole Town's Talking

The Whole Town's Talking

A Novel
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.
    Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it's called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town's Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder's Our Town and Flagg's own Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.
    Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. "Resting place" turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.
    With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town's Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.
    Praise for The Whole Town's Talking
    "[A] witty multigenerational saga . . . [Fannie] Flagg's down-home wisdom, her affable humor and her long view of life offer a pleasant respite in nerve-jangling times."People
    "The Whole Town's Talking [is] Fannie Flagg at her best."Florida Times Union
    "If there's one thing Fannie Flagg can do better than anybody else, it's tell a story, and she outdoes herself in The Whole Town's Talking. . . . Another brilliant novel—equally on the level as her famous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."The Newport Plain Talk
    "Told with warmth, humor and remarkable characters, this touching novel is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of love."The Columbus Dispatch
    "Delightful."—The Washington Post
    "I could not put this book down and didn't want the tale to end. Fannie Flagg does it again; a great read you won't want to miss."The Missourian
    "It's a sweeping, cinematic approach. . . . Flagg's gentle storytelling makes the novel an easy, comfortable read that will leave a reader thinking about life, love and loss"—Minneapolis Star Tribune
    "[Fannie Flagg] creates a world familiar in its reality and its hopes, and she displays her storytelling skills, ones that are enhanced by her humanity, her optimism and her big heart. . . . The Whole Town's Talking [is] a story of life's peaks, valleys and ordinary days—and a ringing affirmation of love, community and life itself."Richmond Times-Dispatch
    "The Whole Town's Talking is warm and inviting. Flagg's Elmwood Springs novels are comfort reads of the best kind, warm and engaging without flash or fuss."Miami Herald
    "Flagg's humor shines through as she chronicles their successes, disappointments, and even a mysterious murder or two."BookPage
    "[A] charming tale."Booklist
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.
    Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it's called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town's Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder's Our Town and Flagg's own Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.
    Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. "Resting place" turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.
    With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town's Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.
    Praise for The Whole Town's Talking
    "[A] witty multigenerational saga . . . [Fannie] Flagg's down-home wisdom, her affable humor and her long view of life offer a pleasant respite in nerve-jangling times."People
    "The Whole Town's Talking [is] Fannie Flagg at her best."Florida Times Union
    "If there's one thing Fannie Flagg can do better than anybody else, it's tell a story, and she outdoes herself in The Whole Town's Talking. . . . Another brilliant novel—equally on the level as her famous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."The Newport Plain Talk
    "Told with warmth, humor and remarkable characters, this touching novel is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of love."The Columbus Dispatch
    "Delightful."—The Washington Post
    "I could not put this book down and didn't want the tale to end. Fannie Flagg does it again; a great read you won't want to miss."The Missourian
    "It's a sweeping, cinematic approach. . . . Flagg's gentle storytelling makes the novel an easy, comfortable read that will leave a reader thinking about life, love and loss"—Minneapolis Star Tribune
    "[Fannie Flagg] creates a world familiar in its reality and its hopes, and she displays her storytelling skills, ones that are enhanced by her humanity, her optimism and her big heart. . . . The Whole Town's Talking [is] a story of life's peaks, valleys and ordinary days—and a ringing affirmation of love, community and life itself."Richmond Times-Dispatch
    "The Whole Town's Talking is warm and inviting. Flagg's Elmwood Springs novels are comfort reads of the best kind, warm and engaging without flash or fuss."Miami Herald
    "Flagg's humor shines through as she chronicles their successes, disappointments, and even a mysterious murder or two."BookPage
    "[A] charming tale."Booklist
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    Excerpts-
    • From the cover Lordor Nordstrom

      1889

      Missouri, USA

      At age twenty-eight, Lordor Nordstrom had left his home in Sweden for America, looking for land to buy. Months later, while crossing down through southern Missouri, he found a large tract of good, rich land with plenty of natural springs, just right for a dairy farm. After he had cleared an area for his farm, he placed an ad in the Swedish-American newspapers for young farmers to come and start a new community and soon others joined him, bringing their families and farm animals with them. By 1880, a small farming community had formed that other people in the area called Swede Town, in spite of the fact that two Germans and one Norwegian (who was suspected of being Finnish) now lived there.

      Today, Lordor Nordstrom stood on the top of a small hill looking over the long expanse of rolling green meadows and little white farmhouses below. It was so quiet and peaceful up here, nothing but the sound of birds and distant cowbells. He could see there was a most pleasant view from every angle. Exactly what he had been looking for.

      He would donate this land to the community and name it Still Meadows. Walking back down the hill, Lordor felt very pleased with himself. As the original settler, he felt a great responsibility to the settlers who had come after him. And he had just found the perfect spot for their final resting place in the upcoming years.

      In the following weeks, Lordor and all the local men cleared the land on the hill and began measuring and blocking out rows of burial plots. Each plot was given a number, written in both Swedish and English, so there would be no confusion. They built a nice wooden arch as an entrance that was carved with flowers and read still meadows cemetery, estab. 1889.

      After all the landscaping was complete, Lordor called a meeting out at his farm, and announced that since they were all first settlers, their plots would be free, first come, first served, which seemed to Lordor the only fair way to do it. In the future, any newcomers would be charged fifty cents a plot.

      The following Sunday, all the families packed up their wagons and went up the hill to stake their claim with small sticks. Some, like the Swensens, who hoped to start a large family, staked out an entire row of twenty or more plots to provide for the ones already here and those yet to come.

      Birdie Swensen was very happy with their choice. She was quite musical and liked hearing the birds and cowbells in the distance. She liked the view as well. She said to her husband, "Look, Lars, you can see our farm and the windmill from here. It will be so nice for the children when they come to visit." Mr. and Mrs. Henry Knott wanted to look back at the cornfields.

      Although the flat area on the top of the hill was rather large, and they could have spread around, most people are creatures of habit. They all tended to pick out spots right next to their neighbors, much as they lived below, Lordor in the middle, under the big oak tree, and everyone else around him. Everybody, that is, except Old Man Hendersen, who marched way over to the other side and stuck his stick there. Someone once said that Eustus Hendersen liked his mules better than he did people, and he had agreed.

      "Mules are mean, but at least they don't talk your head off when you see them."

      Later, after everyone had chosen a plot, they sat down for a picnic lunch. Blueberries were in season, so the ladies had made pies. Mr. Lindquist played his fiddle, and Mrs. Knott played her accordion. All in all, it was a fun afternoon.

      Of course, at the time, none of them knew about all the strange and mysterious events that...
    About the Author-
    • Fannie Flagg's career started in the fifth grade when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play, titled The Whoopee Girls, and she has not stopped since. At age nineteen she began writing and producing television specials, and later wrote for and appeared on Candid Camera. She then went on to distinguish herself as an actress and a writer in television, films, and the theater. She is the bestselling author of Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!; Standing in the Rainbow; A Redbird Christmas; Can't Wait to Get to Heaven; I Still Dream About You; The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion; and The Whole Town's Talking. Flagg's script for the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for an Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America Award and won the highly regarded Scripter Award for best screenplay of the year. Fannie Flagg is the winner of the Harper Lee Prize. She lives happily in California and Alabama.
    Reviews-
    • AudioFile Magazine Kimberly Farr maintains narrative drive as Flagg's book follows several generations of a town's residents from 1889 to 2020. The story begins in 1889, when Swedish immigrant Lordor Nordstrom founds the town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri. It's easy to be lulled into thinking this is a typical idealistic story of old times--until the older generation begins to pass away, to be buried in the town's cemetery. Then things take an interesting supernatural turn. Farr's slow-paced, clearly enunciated narration completely fits the tone of the story. She creates excellent character voices and accents, adding charm to the production. Listeners will either love the author's take on what may happen after death or be completely put off by it, but Farr's narration makes for easy listening either way. M.M.G. � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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      Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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      All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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