Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
By Fannie Flagg
I have long enjoyed the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, which starred Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary Louise Parker. It is one of my favorites.
However, I had never read the book, an oversight that I decided to correct since I have read many other books by Fannie Flagg.
Very rarely do I decide that the movie is better than the book. In this case, I think it is a tie.
The movie succinctly showcases the heart of the story, and tells it well, if not better, than the book. But the book is rather like southern potato salad - more creamy and filling than the movie ever thought of being.
The book goes into greater depth and offers up additional characters, and I enjoyed that. The movie has a number of differences from the book, too, and it was interesting to note those as I read.
The book Fried Green Tomatoes is set up in an unusual manner for the reader - there are many time and location changes, and things jump around a good bit. Some of the story is told by Ninny Threadgood, an old woman in a nursing home, who is visited by Evelyn Couch. Evelyn is a modern day 48-year-old woman who is trying to find herself (and I confess I have in the last decade identified with her character strongly whenever I see the movie. Towanda indeed.).
Other parts of the story are told by an omniscient narrator, and still other parts read as if they are torn from the local gossip sheet.
I think in this instance the two works are best taken in separate lumps, and better off not compared. Each has its strong points. If you want a bit more potato salad than the movie offered, read the book.