Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Report/A Redbird Christmas

A Redbird Christmas
by Fannie Flagg
unabridged audio read by the author
fiction, 2004
finished, 10/7/08

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.


  1. I loved A Redbird Christmas when I read it several years ago (must have been before I had the blog, as I can't pull up a review on it). Fannie Flagg has a terrific way of taking a bunch of quirky characters and making them (and you) really care about each other and about life.

  2. I don't remember the book very well, but I remember that I liked it - until I came to the end. I don't even remember the ending now but I have a feeling that I thought it was too abrupt, like the author was in a hurry to makeup a happy ending to get it over with. I need to take a look at it.

  3. I have to say that this is one of my favorite books. I have it on cds and when I take a long trip, in they go, one right after the other. Fannie Flagg herself reads the story, bringing her characters to life. I'm leaving for Missouri tomorrow morning and you knwo that I will be listening in on Oswald and the gang!!

  4. I loved A Redbird Christmas. All the more so because I saw the town of Fairhope in the description of place. Fairhope is such a lovely little southern town.

  5. I had the same reaction to the book the first time I read it. Meh. Didn't move me the way it did so many other readers. Perhaps I should listen to it, too!

    Coincidentally, I just pulled Welcome To The World, Baby Girl from my stacks. Thought it might be a nice read in November.

  6. Fannie Flagg does a wonderful job
    narrating her own work! Besides A Redbird Christmas, I've also listened to her read Welcome to the World, Baby Girl.

  7. Nan, I'm sorry I missed this post the day it came out! Glad my book is among those igniting an interest in Alabama.

    Fanny Flagg spent some time in Fairhope, and I was acquainted with her--it was the period when she was working on a screenplay for Fried Green Tomatoes!

    I have a new book about the area that will be out before Christmas, not that you don't have enough to read...


I'll answer your comments as soon as I possibly can. Please do come back if you've asked a question.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.