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The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion    by Fannie Flagg order for
All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion
by Fannie Flagg
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A new novel by Fannie Flagg! And with a title that immediately stamps it as one of hers, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion. Mrs. Sookie Poole, worn out by weddings in Point Clear, Alabama, seems as nice and ordinary as nice and ordinary can be, despite having suffered all her life from a demanding diva of a mother - Lenore Simmons Krackenberry has always tried (and often failed) to mould Sookie in her own aristocratic image. The only time in her life that Sookie put her own foot down was her decision to marry her loving husband Earle, a dentist.

Out of the blue (and at age sixty!) Sookie learns that she was adopted, that her birth name was Ginger, and that her birth mother was Polish!! To say she is thrown for a loop would be the understatement of the century. But at least she knows she will escape 'the curse of the Simmonses' (early dementia). Gradually, with help from a psychiatrist (their meetings are hilarious) this gentle, good woman comes to terms with the fact that she is not who she has always believed herself to be, and eventually emerges from her shell and learns to know, value and even reinvent herself - and to stand up to her mother.

The novel is filled with flashbacks to Poland in 1909 and to Pulaski, Wisconsin in the 1940s, when spirited stunt pilot Fritzi Jurdabralinski (with her sisters' help) takes on the responsibility of running the family filling station after her father is diagnosed with TB. She promotes it as the All-Girl Filling Station. But there's a lot more to the novel (what else would we expect from Fannie Flagg?) It also portrays the vital jobs that women filled during World War II, in particular the Jurdabralinski sisters' role as aviators in the WASP program.

As always, Fannie Flagg offers her legion of fans a heartwarming, highly satisfying read with intriguing twists and turns in The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion. You have to love a lead who confides that 'when you live long enough to see your children begin to look at you with different eyes, and you can look at them not as your children, but as people, it's worth getting older with all the creaks and wrinkles.' Hear, hear!

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