Summary and book reviews of Standing In The Rainbow by Fannie Flagg

Standing In The Rainbow

by Fannie Flagg

Standing In The Rainbow
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2002, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2003, 464 pages

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Book Summary

The time is 1946 until the present. The town is Elmwood Springs, Missouri. Once again, Flagg gives us a story of richly human characters, the saving graces of the once-maligned middle classes and small-town life, and the daily contest between laughter and tears.

Good news! Fannie's back in town--and the town is among the leading characters in her new novel.

Along with Neighbor Dorothy, the lady with the smile in her voice, whose daily radio broadcasts keep us delightfully informed on all the local news, we also meet Bobby, her ten-year-old son, destined to live a thousand lives, most of them in his imagination; Norma and Macky Warren and their ninety-eight-year-old Aunt Elner; the oddly sexy and charismatic Hamm Sparks, who starts off in life as a tractor salesman and ends up selling himself to the whole state and almost the entire country; and the two women who love him as differently as night and day. Then there is Tot Whooten, the beautician whose luck is as bad as her hairdressing skills; Beatrice Woods, the Little Blind Songbird; Cecil Figgs, the Funeral King; and the fabulous Minnie Oatman, lead vocalist of the Oatman Family Gospel Singers.

The time is 1946 until the present. The town is Elmwood Springs, Missouri, right in the middle of the country, in the midst of the mostly joyous transition from war to peace, aiming toward a dizzyingly bright future.

Once again, Fannie Flagg gives us a story of richly human characters, the saving graces of the once-maligned middle classes and small-town life, and the daily contest between laughter and tears. Fannie truly writes from the heartland, and her storytelling is, to quote Time, "utterly irresistible."

Elmwood Springs

Almost everyone in town that had an extra room took in a boarder. There were no apartment buildings or hotels as of yet. The Howard Johnson was built a few years later but in the meantime bachelors needed to be looked after and single women certainly had to have a respectable place to live. Most people considered it their Christian duty to take them in whether they needed the few extra dollars a week or not, and some of the boarders stayed on for years. Mr. Pruiet, a bachelor from Kentucky with long thin feet, boarded with the Haygoods so long that they eventually forgot he was not family. Whenever they moved, he moved. When he finally did die at seventy-eight, he was buried in the Haygood family plot with a headstone that read:

MR. PRUIET

STILL WITH US

PAID IN FULL

The homes on First Avenue North were located within walking distance of town and school and were where most of the town's boarders lived.

At present the Smith family's boarder is Jimmy ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The novel starts in the immediate aftermath of World War II. How does the period compare with the times following more modern wars—Vietnam, Gulf War, Desert Storm, etc.?

  2. In what ways is Bobby the typical pre-teenage son? Does he differ in any important details? Does his active imagination hamper him, confuse him, or fuel his ambitions?
     
  3. In what ways is Neighbor Dorothy a good neighbor? What makes her such an effective seller of her sponsors’ products or services?

  4. Does Neighbor Dorothy speak through the silences surrounding some farmers’ wives—the silent or the working-all-day husband, for example. Or the limited view the nation had of housewives at that time? Or ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Because Flagg doesn't patronize her characters, her novels beat out other feel-good fiction.

Booklist - Mary Frances Wilkens

Starred Review. Flagg's straightforward, unadorned prose keeps them sweet and pure and grounded in everyday life. If there's a flaw in the narrative, it's the 50-year span; too soon Bobby grows up, times change, and one pines for those days once again.

Kirkus Reviews

Hilarious, charming, authentic--a winner all the way.

Reader Reviews

Joan M Burke

It's Better Than Very Good
I've been doing a lot of reading lately (because of access to a lot of books (I work in Model Homes) and this book is unbelievably good. True-life great moments and lots of laughs. Wish it had been made into a movie. Kathy Bates would have had to ...   Read More

Anonymous

I have been an avid reader since age 8, but when I finished reading Standing In the Rainbow I did something I have never done before; I turned back to page 1 and read it all over again.

Keith Chawgo

I have just finished reading 'Standing in the Rainbow' and all I have to say is what a brilliant and awe inspiring work. I felt that I had become a part of these characters lives and the changes for which each character undergoes was trully ...   Read More

Anonymous

simply brilliant...

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