Synopses & Reviews
The beloved Fannie Flagg is back and at her irresistible and hilarious best in I Still Dream About You
, a comic mystery romp through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, past, present, and future.
Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie's life seems practically perfect — she's lovely, charming, and a successful real estate agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can't help but wonder how she wound up in her present condition. She had been on her hopeful way to becoming Miss America and realizing her childhood dream of someday living in one of the elegant old homes on top of Red Mountain, with the adoring husband and the 2.5 children, but then something unexpected happened and changed everything.
Maggie graduated at the top of her class at charm school, can fold a napkin in more than forty-eight different ways, and can enter and exit a car gracefully, but all the finesse in the world cannot help her now. Since the legendary real estate dynamo Hazel Whisenknott, beloved founder of Red Mountain Realty, died five years ago, business has gone from bad to worse — and the future isn't looking much better. But just when things seem completely hopeless, Maggie suddenly comes up with the perfect plan to solve it all.
As Maggie prepares to put her plan into action, we meet the cast of high-spirited characters around her. To Brenda Peoples, Maggie's best friend and real estate partner, Maggie's life seems easy as pie. Slender Maggie doesn't have to worry about her figure, or about her Weight Watchers sponsor catching her at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. And Ethel Clipp, Red Mountain's ancient and grumpy office manager with the bright purple hair, thinks the world of Maggie but has absolutely nothing nice to say about their rival Babs, "The Beast of Birmingham". Bingington, the unscrupulous estate agent who hates Maggie and is determined to put her out of business.
Maggie has heartbreaking secrets in her past, but through a strange turn of events, she soon discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems — dead or alive — has at least one little secret.
I Still Dream About You is a wonderful novel that is equal parts Southern charm, murder mystery, and that perfect combination of comedy and old-fashioned wisdom that can be served up only by America's own remarkable Fannie Flagg.
"Flagg's whimsical heartstring tugger (after Can't Wait to Get to Heaven) follows the continually interrupted suicide attempt of a former Birmingham, Ala., beauty queen, now 60 and a realtor. The 2008 election is hitting the home stretch as former Miss Alabama, Maggie Fortenberry, plans her exit from a world she can no longer bear. Still grieving over the loss of her best friend and unceasingly optimistic boss, Hazel Whizenknott, Maggie feels like a failure: the business is in decline, and she's lamenting a lifetime's worth of chances missed, including turning down her one true love. In fact, she's come up with 16 'perfectly good reasons to jump in the river' and only two reasons not to. Of course, there is hope to be found — professionally, personally, perhaps romantically — even in Maggie's darkest hours. Flagg gives the story some breadth with a subplot about a friend's campaign to become Birmingham's first black mayor. Maggie's quandary, meanwhile, is detailed with Flagg's trademark light touch and a sincere wit that's heavier on heart than sass. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Beloved, best-selling Flagg’s latest will be actively promoted with online appearances and should quickly become a book-club favorite." Booklist
A major new novel — the first in four years — by the irresistible bestselling author of Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
About the Author
Fannie Flagg’s career started in the fifth grade when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play entitled "The Whoopee Girls", and she has not stopped since. At age nineteen she began writing and producing television specials, and later wrote and appeared on Candid Camera. She then went on to distinguish herself as an actress and a writer in television, films, and the theater. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!; Standing in the Rainbow; A Redbird Christmas; and Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven. Flagg’s script for the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for an Academy Award, and the Writers Guild of America Award and won the highly regarded Scripter Award for best screenplay of the year. Flagg lives happily in California and Alabama.
Reading Group Guide
1. Maggie’s life hasn’t turned out the way she’d hoped, and at the beginning of the book she makes her big decision to fix it once and for all. Why do you think she feels this way, and what makes her decide that the time has come to put her plan into action? Have you ever felt the way Maggie does, and if so, what did you do to solve it?
2. Maggie’s decision comes at the end of a perfectly ordinary day, with no bells and whistles or dramatic events. In your opinion, is this typical of the way big changes happen in real life? Can you think of examples in your own life where a major event happened on an otherwise ordinary-feeling day?
3. What are Maggie’s “16 perfectly good reasons to jump in the river”? If you were making the list, what would you put in your “pros” and “cons” columns?
4. When Charles proposed to Maggie years before, she turned him down. Why did she do this? Do you think she made the right decision, given the circumstances at the time? In hindsight, should she have made a different decision? What would you have done?
5. Both Brenda and Maggie each think that the other’s life is easier and happier. Brenda is envious of Maggie’s good looks and constant cheerfulness and charm, while Maggie wishes she had Brenda’s practicality and the comfort of her big family. Why do you think they believe this—is the grass simply always greener on the other side of the fence? If you had to choose between Brenda’s and Maggie’s, which kind of life would you prefer?
6. Edwina Crocker-Sperry spent her life protecting a huge secret, one that both gave her tremendous freedom and tightly curtailed her world. What do you think that life was like for her? Would you like to have been Edwina, or to have lived a life like hers? What do you think would have happened if her secret had been discovered?
7. Everyone who meets Hazel Whisenknott falls in love with her, with her energy and enthusiasm and optimism. Even five years after she is gone, she still brightens the lives of all her friends and employees. Do you know anyone like Hazel?
8. Hazel refused to let anything get in the way of her dreams. What lessons could we all learn from Hazel’s story? What about Maggie’s?
9. At one point, Maggie meets a schoolmate who is surprised to hear that Maggie never became Miss America—the friend has been bragging about knowing Miss America for years. When Maggie tells her she was just the second runner-up, she laughs, “Honey, it’s like the Oscars; after so many years, nobody ever remembers who won, just who was nominated.” How does this change Maggie’s perspective? Do you think the observation is true, or not? Can you think of examples?
10. One effect of Maggie’s decision, she realizes, is that she no longer has to worry about the consequences of her actions. She stops going to the gym and watching the news, and starts having a lot more fun. She even speaks her mind to Babs Bingington! If you didn’t have to worry about the long-term consequences of your actions, what would you do differently? Is there anything on your list you might want to do anyway? Is there anything you might want to give up, despite the consequences?