Monday, October 20, 2008
Book Report/A Redbird Christmas
A Redbird Christmas
by Fannie Flagg
unabridged audio read by the author
From my November, 2004 book journal:
C+ Nothing objectionable, nothing to make a reader hate it.
Just very so-so, bland.
When I was reading, it was okay, but I wasn't drawn to it.
I didn't think about it when I was away from the book.
I had trouble keeping the women straight - they weren't distinct people to me.
The book just didn't do anything for me.
Why did I read A Redbird Christmas again if this is what I wrote four years ago? Well, I saw it was available on audio cd read by the author, and thought I'd give it another chance. I thought maybe it would be easier to keep those women straight with a narrator, probably using different voices for each one. And in addition, the narrator is the author herself, so why not? It might just be wonderful. And it was. So very wonderful.
When I first read this book, there was a great deal of stress and sadness in my life and the lives around me. I can't help but think this affected my concentration. I may have zoomed through the book not really becoming a part of its world. Well, this time I did. I moved to Lost River, Alabama along with Oswald T. Campbell.
The book begins with his doctor in Chicago telling him he doesn't have much time to live if he doesn't get away from the cold, wintry climate. He shows Oswald a brochure from long ago about this little town of warm breezes and soft air, and having nothing to lose, Oswald goes there. He's not particularly despondent, and just begins living day to day. The people he meets are wonderful, and I kept them very straight this time. I was reminded of the characters in Bailey White's, Quite A Year For Plums; and of The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer, a novel based on a real person who also left the cold and snow for Alabama, Mary Lois' Fairhope, thinking his death was coming soon.
Oswald is offered hospitality and kindness and acceptance as he settles into this community. Most of the people are just the kind you would want for your own friends and neighbors. But Fannie Flagg doesn't turn away from the sadder elements of life. We meet a neglected little girl and we read of a serious feud between families which has destroyed lives. As the book goes on, the reader learns that love and compassion can do much to ease pain and bring about reconciliation. The ending offers a modern-day Christmas miracle which I entirely believed in.
So, four years on, my opinion of the book has gone up two grades, if I were still grading my books. I loved it.
I'll leave you with a video of Jack Teagarden singing Stars Fell on Alabama. The song, and the books I've read this year about Alabama have given me a longing for a place I've never seen. I wonder if I ever will.