What’s more Southern than fried green tomatoes? Why a new Fannie Flagg novel, of course. Her latest release picks up where her 1987 novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” left off. Bud Threadgoode grew up in Whistle Stop when it was a bustling railroad burg, but after he moved away, it turned into a neglected ghost town. Bud returns for one final trip and discovers surprises about his Aunt Idgie and other residents of the town, which help to change his future and the future of his daughter. In “The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop,” Flagg fans will celebrate her return to the iconic fictional Alabama town, and she’ll gain legions of others who will treasure this charming and inspiring tale.
If the South were to appoint a mystic-in-residence, Nashville author River Jordan would be a likely contender. She’s written two books exploring Christian spirituality, and her latest, “The Ancient Way: Discoveries on the Path of Celtic Christianity,” is about her travels to the Isle of Iona in Scotland, which gave birth to Celtic Christianity. In the book, she explores spiritual friendships and community, the power of hospitality, and the pleasures of the creative imagination.
Through Jordan’s wise and engaging narrative voice, readers will experience the sacred pulse of Celtic Christianity via emerald fields, sandy shores and the damp stones of a centuries-old abbey. “The Ancient Way” is far more than a travelogue; it’s a voyage of personal transformation and an exploration of the divine through stillness and prayer.
Who is welcome in the South? That’s the question explored in “A Measure of Belonging: Twenty-One Writers of Color on the New American South.” These essays, compiled by Charleston writer Cinelle Barnes, explore the racial tensions people of color feel in the most routine activities, such as hunting for an apartment or visiting the DMV.
Cultural peculiarities of the South are also explored. A young Southern woman who has relocated to Indiana describes her feelings of being far from the familiar comfort of Popeyes or OutKast, and another essay explores the Southern history of Beyonce’s black majorettes.
This often amusing, frequently fierce collection is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the complexities of racism in the 21st century South.
Millicent Glenn is 91, and she’s been harboring a secret for 60 years. Before she dies, she wants to repair her relationship with her daughter Jane and reveal a past that could shatter the lives of three generations of women. That’s the premise of “Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish,” written by Atlanta author Tori Whitaker. The story alternates from the 1950s to the present day and highlights the different demands on women as the decades pass. If you love midcentury nostalgia and novels that delve deep into family relationships, you’ll enjoy this well-crafted, historical tale.
In this pandemic, escapist literature is selling like face masks, especially literature that transports the reader to a romantic destination like Tuscany. “The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany” by Lori Nelson Spielman is about a 200-year-old curse on second-born Fontana women that dooms them to lives devoid of true love. Two cousins resign themselves to never finding lasting romance until their aunt invites them to Italy, saying the curse will be lifted on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her 80th birthday.
Sound a bit like a fairy tale? It is, but it’s a poignant fairy tale rooted in reality that lifts the reader into a world with lush fields, jewel-box villages and picturesque canals. “The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany” is so involving, you’ll look up from the page and say, “Pandemic? What pandemic?”
Regional Author Releases
“The Ghost Light of Alhambra” by Augusta author Francie Klopotic is a novel about a haunted movie theater in Cut Rock, Georgia.
“Surprised by Marriage: A Cynic’s Guide to Believing in Love” by former Augusta resident M.C. Starbuck explores dating and the first year of marriage but also includes quotes from people at all stages of their relationship.
“A Random Walk Down Abercorn & Habersham Streets: A Savannah Tour” by John H. Maclean shares events associated with the architecture of the streets of Savannah.
“A Red Door” by Savannah author Kathyrn Jarvis is the story about the unraveling of a marriage and the breakup of a young family during the late 1980s AIDS crisis.
Do you have local literary news? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. By the Book is published monthly on last Sundays.