Thursday, December 19, 2013

Standing in the Rainbow

2002, 2003 Ballantine edition
Fannie Flagg
Standing in the Rainbow
Probably bought new for $7.99
Worn paperback

I said of the companion novel, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl (1998), that I'd rather Flagg had set the story in the 1940s entirely.  Well, although this book covers 1946 to 2000 (with some flashbacks to the Depression and World War II), it's mostly set in the Truman days, with that era used in the second half of the book as a stick to beat the 1960s and beyond with.  I did like learning more about Neighbor Dorothy and her family and friends, but too much of the book is about Hamm Sparks.  When he dies, it's probably the most boring mystery in all of the Flagg novels.  (Meanwhile, his wife Betty Raye's switched-at-birth story is never revealed to any characters and is just thrown in there to explain why she doesn't fit in with her family.)

As always with Flagg, the timeline is screwy, whether it's Bobby changing his birth year from 1936 to 1934, or Aunt Elner being an old woman for something like 60 years.  (The woman, Mother Smith, who was 70+ in 1948 and a little girl in 1904 last book, this time was a college student in 1898, although her son would've been born around 1895.)  And although I didn't like Dena in the earlier book, it seemed weird that she's not even mentioned in this one as moving into Dorothy's old house and starting her own radio show.  There are other companions/sequels in this sort-of-series, but I think this is the last Flagg book I own.  Too bad she couldn't maintain the wacky charm of Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man (1981).  Oh, and like that first novel, there's a gay man named Cecil in this one, but despite the title, there's little queer content this time.

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