I love Fannie Flagg. There are just no two ways about it. She could write her shopping list and I would read it. She writes about people I want to know and places I want to live. Her worlds are the way we want to the world to be, the world we think of when we think back nostalgically to “the way it used to be”.
I read Standing in the Rainbow when it first came out and, of course, loved it. Then awhile back I was clicking through my libraries list of downloadable audio books and saw it listed and thought it was time to reread this wonderful story. Now, I’m just starting to really get into audio books. To be honest I used to think it was kind of cheating to listen to a book rather than read it. I was wrong and a snob and I’ve changed my evil ways because I’ve loved listening to audio books.
I think what stands out for me the most with this particular Fannie Flagg story getting to see the passage of time and how Elmwood Springs and all it’s inhabitants change, yet stay the same. We follow the Smith family and all their friends and loved one from just after the end of WWII all the way through the new millennium. What I truly loved was how as much as the world changed the fundamental truths of love and family and friends stayed the same.
What I had forgotten from the first time I read Standing in the Rainbow was just how many stories were told in this story. I remembered Neighbor Dorothy and her wonderful radio show. I remembered several stories of the residents of Elmwood Springs, the Goodnight Sisters and their adventures during and after the war, Beatrice-the little blind songbird and her longing to travel, and Dorothy’s children Bobby and Anna Lee and the trials and tribulations of their growing up. But, I had forgotten about the Oatman Family Singers and wonderful Minnie Oatman. I had forgotten about that Betty Raye Oatman came to stay with the Smiths and how that was to change her life forever. I had forgotten Hamm Sparks (I don’t know how I could have forgotten a name like that) going from tractor salesman to Governor of Missouri and the wonderful Cecil Figgs and the unexpected turn of events that gave him a whole new life. There is a heck of a lot of story in this book.
This audio version was read my Kate Reading and she did a bang up job. There were a lot, and I mean a lot, of characters in this book. And almost all had dialog. Somehow she made them all very distinct and recognizable. I knew who was talking throughout the whole book. I’m in awe of the work these readers do. I listened to this every evening when I would go out to walk and I would get excited about the idea of listening the same way I did when I was little and knew my mom was coming to read me a story. It really is wonderful having someone read you a story when you’re all grown up. I don’t know what I was thinking poo-pooing audio books; I’m now an official fan.
Oh, and when you hear the story that gives the book it’s title you will totally want to stand in a rainbow.