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Standing in the Rainbow [Paperback]

Fannie Flagg
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 3 2004 Ballantine Reader's Circle
Good news! Fannie’s back in town--and the town is among the leading characters in her new novel.

Along with Neighbor Dorothy, the lady with the smile in her voice, whose daily radio broadcasts keep us delightfully informed on all the local news, we also meet Bobby, her ten-year-old son, destined to live a thousand lives, most of them in his imagination; Norma and Macky Warren and their ninety-eight-year-old Aunt Elner; the oddly sexy and charismatic Hamm Sparks, who starts off in life as a tractor salesman and ends up selling himself to the whole state and almost the entire country; and the two women who love him as differently as night and day. Then there is Tot Whooten, the beautician whose luck is as bad as her hairdressing skills; Beatrice Woods, the Little Blind Songbird; Cecil Figgs, the Funeral King; and the fabulous Minnie Oatman, lead vocalist of the Oatman Family Gospel Singers.

The time is 1946 until the present. The town is Elmwood Springs, Missouri, right in the middle of the country, in the midst of the mostly joyous transition from war to peace, aiming toward a dizzyingly bright future.

Once again, Fannie Flagg gives us a story of richly human characters, the saving graces of the once-maligned middle classes and small-town life, and the daily contest between laughter and tears. Fannie truly writes from the heartland, and her storytelling is, to quote Time, "utterly irresistible."


From the Hardcover edition.

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Standing in the Rainbow + I Still Dream About You: A Novel + Can't Wait to Get to Heaven: A Novel
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

From the talented storyteller whose Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe became a beloved bestseller and a successful film comes a sprawling, feel-good novel with an old-fashioned beginning, middle and end. The predominant setting is tiny Elmwood Springs, Mo., and the protagonist is 10-year-old Bobby Smith, an earnest Cub Scout also capable of sneaking earthworms into his big sister's bed. His father is the town pharmacist and his mother is local radio personality Neighbor Dorothy (whom readers will recognize from Flagg's Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!). In 1946, Harry Truman presides over a victorious nation anticipating a happy and prosperous future. During the next several decades, the plot expands to include numerous beguiling characters who interact with the Smith family among them, the Oatman Family Southern Gospel Singers, led by matriarch Minnie, who survive misadventures galore to find fame after an appearance on the Arthur Godfrey show in 1949, the same year Bobby's self-esteem soars when he wins the annual town bubble gum contest. Also on hand are tractor salesman Ham Sparks, who becomes amazingly successful in politics, despite his marriage to overwhelmingly shy Betty Raye Oatman, and well-liked mortician Cecil Figgs, a sponsor of Neighbor Dorothy, who, as a bachelor in the mid-century South, also enjoys a secret life. The effects of changing social mores are handled deftly; historical events as they impact little Elmwood Springs are duly noted, and everything is infused with the good humor and joie de vivre that are Flagg's stock-in-trade.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Flagg brings her readers back to 1940s Elmwood, MO, when a family of white gospel singers bursts into town.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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ALMOST EVERYONE in town that had an extra room took in a boarder. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out! This book will suck you in! Sept. 10 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book! I can't say enough wonderful things about this storyline! The characters and the town just come to life while you read it. I really enjoyed getting to know Dorothy's family and the other wacky townspeople. I had already read "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!" and although I really enjoyed that book, I kept wanting to know more about the Neighbor Dorothy Show and the people surrounding her! I was so excited to start reading this book and realize it was just that! It makes you feel like once upon a time there really was a town just like Elmwood Springs, and it almost makes me wish I'd grown up in a small town, way back when...
I did read this book in just one night (one very late night!) because it really does suck you in. Even though it spans a huge amount of time I really didn't want it to end! It had everything I enjoy in a good book and I think it would make a great movie. I smiled a lot while reading it, laughed out loud often, and finally even cried (which I don't usually do with the books I read). It left me feeling good and having a little different outlook on life in general!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Flag this for comfort and humor Aug. 13 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Reading Fannie Flagg is the best of diversions from the complicated world of today. Just travel back to the simpler life of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, and the radio domain of Neighbor Dorothy. It is the 1940's in a small town of quite beauty with families and neighbors living very normal lives in a time just after WWII. Neighbor Dorothy is an incredible woman, a center for broadcasts that reach a huge span of listeners in many states. Her thirty minute broadcast, homespun with reliable sponsors, varied guests, a family of supporters, most especially Mother Smith at the organ, and talent that a world of media junkies might find hard to believe is the hub of the novel. The cast of thousands over the years draws in a cast of characters that are priceless and real, as the home of Dorothy and Doc, the local pharmacist, their children Anna Lee and Bobby, and their family pets, comes to house even the most desolate of persons. And the simple acceptance and open arms welcome of the Smith household just seems to be second nature, especially to Dorothy. One can only imagine how delightful Dorothy's cookies for on-the-air guests and audience members must smell. That thought alone draws the reader into this wonderful home.
Skillfully, Flagg executes her story line in easy-going episodes, developing each character in relation to the others and revealing their personal oddities and endearing traits. From the gospel singing Oatmans and their retiring Betty Raye, to the in-for-a-meal poultry king, name of Fowler, to Hamm Sparks, the politician and future governor of Missouri, Flagg makes her characters vivid and fun, with potential greatness and feet of clay.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Flagg's American quilt July 28 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Standing in the Rainbow," by Fannie Flagg, is a novel that seems to me like a literary version of a patchwork quilt: Flagg takes a colorful bunch of stories and weaves them together into a warm and comforting whole. The novel tells the stories of a number of generations of folk living in Elmwood Springs, Missouri. The book begins in the 1940s and takes us through several more decades.
Flagg deals with a lot of issues in this 500-plus page (in the paperback version) book: love, marriage, parenthood, loss, death, growing up, growing old, cultural difference, etc. Particularly juicy is her storytelling about American popular culture and politics. In the interlocking tales of these people she deals with a wide span of human relationships: mother/daughter, brother/sister, husband/wife, grandparent/grandchild, friends, political rivals, etc.
The book is full of likeable and colorful characters, some of whom have surprising twists in their life journeys. Flagg is adept at showing how people live their lives in the midst of societal change; I also admire her skill at showing how ordinary folk can have revelatory moments in their lives.
"Standing" is a big, lively, likeable novel. Although a number of sections could almost stand alone as independent short stories, they ultimately contribute to Flagg's larger story--the story not of one person, or of one family, but of an entire community and more. Although there is sadness along the way, it's a hopeful and positive book. Flagg writes with grace, humor, and--above all--compassion for her characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Flagg weaves her magical spell again! July 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have read all of Flagg's books and this one is just as sweet and humorous as her others. If you love Southern Fiction, then you will love this book. It is unbeatable! It is a page-turner ~~ you can't help but turn the page in order to keep up with the residents of Elmwood Springs.
Dorothy broadcasts her radio show from her living room along with her mother-in-law ~~ bringing local news and gossip to the town and surrounding areas. She brings such warmth and humor into the book that you wish she was your own mother! Or neighbor! Then there is Minnie Oatman, head of a gospel-singing family, her daughter Betty Raye who desires nothing more than to put her roots down somewhere and not travel, there is Bobby, Dorothy's rascally son who is so curious and full of imagination that lives a thousand lives, there is Jimmy, their boarder who is a WWII vet who lost his leg in battle, there is Tot Whooten, Dorothy's neighbor who seems to have a string of bad luck starting with her husband. Then there is Anna Lee, Dorothy's beautiful daughter who is always squabbling with Bobby. There is Hamm Sparks, a man full of ambition, Doc Smith, Dorothy's husband and the town pharamicist.
These are just a few of the characters in the book ~~ but you'll warm up to the story telling that spans four decades. You'll laugh with them, cry with them, moan over them and sometimes fight their fights as well. They are people just as real as your neighbors, friends and family are. Flagg writes about the everyday people through the changes of time. It is a very heart-warming book ~~ one that you keep thinking of long after the last page has been turned.
I highly recommend this book ~~ not just for its humor but for the indepths Flagg writes about her characters. You know those characters because they are you.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read!
Once again, Fannie Flagg has delivered a host of characters so real that you feel as though you should pour yourself a cup of tea, pull up a chair and share a recipe with Neighbor... Read more
Published on May 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Can I go there?
What a wonderful, enjoyable, fun read this was! I have to ask: Is there really such a place, and can I go there? Read more
Published on March 26 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to Experience
A truely heart warming tale about an small town family and those who are dear to them. The character development in this book is spectacular making you feel as if you've known... Read more
Published on March 14 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Echoes of a Simpler Life!
This is a warm, sprawling novel that will appeal to many,because of its sympathetic portrayal of marriage and small-town life, and its evoking of a simpler time when people of... Read more
Published on March 5 2004 by Gregory Nyman
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read
This book was phenomenonally great from start to finish. From the first chapter, you are mentally intrigued and begin memorizing each new character's behavior, and mannerisms. Read more
Published on March 4 2004 by Amy
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Voice and Character
This novel spans the 40's to the 90's in a small Missouri town. The beginning of the novel is a bit slow but as I got into the book I realized that was due in part to the depth of... Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2004 by J. A Carty
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Fried Green Tomatoes was, is, and will always be my favorite book and movie--of ALL the books and movies out there. I've worn out my VHS copy and am moving on to DVD. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! Best I've Read!!
Fannie Flagg is one of my most favorite authors, and this book is in my opinion the best she's written. The characters are great and I was really bummed to see this book end. Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2004 by Mercedes J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Storytelling at it's best!
Fannie Flagg weaves a wonderful story taking us along in her witty, clever way to a small town in a bygone time and introducing us to a cast of characters so rich and interesting... Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by Smart Lady
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
I love how this book follows the lives of the characters through the 20th Century. I think their lives are so interesting, reading how things change with the "progress"... Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2004 by K. Doll
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