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I Still Dream About You    by Fannie Flagg order for
I Still Dream About You
by Fannie Flagg
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Fannie Flagg, author of novels blending compassion and tolerance with a strong dose of humour - from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe to Can't Wait to Get to Heaven - continues to bring a light, quirky touch to Southern living in I Still Dream About You. She shares with her readers a farcical romp through Birmingham, Alabama, as it was and as it is now, through the eyes of former Miss Alabama (still lovely) Maggie Fortenberry.

Maggie, whose youthful dreams have come to naught, is a successful real estate agent at Red Mountain Realty, whose employees are all reeling from the death of their dynamic boss and mentor, three foot, four inches tall Hazel Whisenknott, whose 'heart was as big as the moon.' Maggie's best friend is her fellow agent Brenda Peoples, who struggles with her weight and hides her forays into unhealthy indulgence from her sister Robbie, a nurse. Office manager Ethel Clipp, who 'hadn't liked much of anything since 1948', adds an amusing running criticism of modern life to the novel. And there's a thoroughly unscrupulous villain, Babs 'The Beast of Birmingham' Bingington, who's determined to corner the real estate market and is 'about as subtle and discreet as a Mack truck.' Babs hates 'Miss Goody Two-Shoes' Maggie.

As I Still Dream About You opens on the day 'Maggie had been thinking about, obsessing about really, for the past five years.' It quickly becomes clear that this gentle, kind, beautifully mannered sixty-year-old woman (believed to be perfect and to have 'the world by the tail' by all who know her) is very depressed. She plans to kill herself and has very carefully worked out a method to disappear with dignity, and in a way that will cause no inconvenience to others. Maggie's plans to drown herself drive the story, but quickly become farcical as they are repeatedly foiled by her good manners. Oddly, Maggie begins to find her suicide plans liberating. She feels different, rather devil-may-care.

The biggest impediment to Maggie's plans is that a landmark mansion she has always admired, Crestview atop Red Mountain, is about to come on the market. Maggie cannot bear the thought that Babs will engineer its sale to a developer, and uses her contacts to get the listing. Then, Maggie and Brenda discover a skeleton in the Crestview closet (or rather in its locked attic). Their decision to hide the bones until after the sale results in an amusing comedy of errors ... and missing body parts! Maggie becomes intrigued by the mystery and determined to solve this very cold case, involving a previous owner of the mansion, Edward Crocker, and his twin sister.

Of course, readers know that all will be well that ends well, and it does - eventually and after further hilarity. I was delighted to see Maggie win her heart's desire in I Still Dream About You and highly recommend this heartwarming novel to you.

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