Fanny Flagg's novel, though intentionally or nor,portrayed a lesbian subtext relationship between Idgy and Ruth. Even though these heroines were never found between the sheets they definately had a romantic relationship. The book does a much better job at looking at this dynamic; two women who are devoted to each other beyond any other relationship. When, in the movie, the story hints at Ninny really being an older Idgy I was extremely disappointed. In the novel, Ninny is Idgy's sister-in-law; once being married to the eldest Threadgoode boy.
They movie, however, does stand on its own as a good movie. However, I don't suggest reading the book first.