Book Review | “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion”

Review by Leah CooperFLAGG_AllGirlFillingStation

Another of my favorite authors is Fannie Flagg. I have vivid memories of her description of the time she and a friend stopped when they saw a “House for Sale” sign.

After breezing in and wandering all through the house, opening doors along the way, she asked the sale price of the house.

The befuddled husband replied, “Lady, the sign says ‘Horse for Sale’ not ‘House for Sale.’ ” With experiences like that, no wonder Flagg has become a master at finding humor and sympathy in unusual circumstances.

In The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Flagg once again fills her novel with quirky characters and lively plot lines. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion has two converging plot lines.

The contemporary story revolves around Sookie Poole, a 60-year-old woman from Birmingham, Alabama, with a domineering mother and an empty nest. The historical portion centers on Fritzi Jurdabralinski of Pulaski, Wisconsin, during World War II.

Sookie opens a package to her mother that upends everything she thought she knew about her family. She is propelled back to the 1940s, and four irrepressible sisters whose wartime adventures force them to reimagine who they are, and what they are capable of.

With Fritzi’s father incapacitated and her brother shipped off to war, Fritzi and her sisters are forced to carry on the family business. But they do more than simply fix flats and drive the tow truck.

With their own touches of neat little caps, short skirts and roller skates, the All-Girl Filling Station is born. Men drive in from all around to have their vehicles serviced, but soon the sisters respond to a greater wartime need.

They become Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs), ferrying airplanes to bases throughout the country. As Sookie learns about the adventures of the girls at the All-Girl Filling Station, she finds herself with new inspiration for her own life.

Fanny Flagg explained to an Amazon editor how she came to weave the WASPs into her novel: “There’s a restaurant in Birmingham called the Whistle Stop Café, the café that I wrote Fried Green Tomatoes about. I happened to call the café one day, because I’m friends with the owner, and she said, ‘Oh! We’ve got a group of gals here having lunch that used to fly military planes. They were WASPs.’ I said, ‘That’s fabulous. Let me buy them lunch.’ They started writing me letters and sending me books about them. I always wanted to write about them, but I couldn’t figure out how. I had to create another story going on — one, a southern family, which of course I always write about, and one, the story of the WASPs.’”

Jefferson Carnegie Library has a number of Fannie Flagg titles available for check-out, including large print and audio CD versions. We invite you to come in, browse the stacks, and find the book that is just right for you.

 

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