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Can't Wait to Get to Heaven: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – June 19, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 459 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Returning to Elmwood Springs, Mo., (where her sprawling 2002 novel, Standing in the Rainbow, chronicled the small town's inhabitants over five decades), Flagg keeps this outing much more tightly-focused; most of the novel takes place over a few days. Octogenarian Elner Shimfissle falls off a ladder after accidentally disturbing a hornets' nest while picking figs. After she dies at the hospital, the novel's bite-size chapters alternate between funny and touching vignettes showing how Elner's death and life has affected dozens of people in town, interspersed with scenes of Elner's laugh-out-loud assent into the hereafter. From there, the plot offers readers a series of delightful surprises. Perhaps Flagg's funniest novel since her debut, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, she's created a charming, life-affirming tale and a full cast of memorable characters, including Elner's late sister, Ida, who greets her in heaven still carrying her purse and a grudge about the bad hair styling she got for her funeral. Flagg is an expert at balancing pathos with plenty of Southern sass, and this could very well be the feel-good read of the summer.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Fannie Flagg began writing and producing television specials at age nineteen and went on to distinguish herself as an actress and writer in television, films, and the theatre. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, Standing in the Rainbow, A Redbird Christmas and I Still Dream About You. Flagg's script for Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for both the Academy and Writers Guild of America awards and won the highly regarded Scripters Award. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 375 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345494881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345494887
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (459 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

FANNIE FLAGG began writing and producing television specials at age nineteen and went on to distinguish herself as an actress and writer in television, films, and the theater. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which was produced by Universal Pictures as Fried Green Tomatoes), Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, and Standing in the Rainbow. Flagg's script for Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for both the Academy and Writers Guild of America Awards and won the highly regarded Scripters Award. Flagg lives in California and in Alabama.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful treat Fannie Flagg's newest trip to Elmwood Springs is. The characters we first met in WELCOME TO THE WORLD, BABY GIRL and got to know better in STANDING IN THE RAINBOW have aged, had more experiences both good and bad, but still maintain the small-town, folksy charm of Flagg's earlier works. The laugh-out-loud moments are many amidst the tears, the suspense, and the fantasy.

Norma Warren's aunt, Elner Shimfissle, who was a minor character in the other novels set in Elmwood Springs, comes into her own as the main character and the epicenter of an emotional upheaval in the little town.

While picking figs from her tree in the front yard, Elner accidentally disturbs a nest of wasps and is bitten to death. Or is she? Fannie Flagg takes liberal license with the heaven alluded to in the Bible, but it's all in good taste and puts a very personal spin on a place still quite mysterious to the living.

The best thing about this book is the characters, their obvious love for one another, and the close-knit feeling of community that Flagg captures with her razor-sharp wit and endearing charm.

Remember Tot Whooten from the Tell It Like It Is Beauty Shop? And Neighbor Dorothy with her fabulous radio show? Macky Warren, Norma's high school sweetheart and husband, and Dena Nordstrom, the cousin who was a high-powered New York executive? These and others have all returned and catching up on their lives is an experience not to be missed.

Along the way, the reader is actually told the meaning of life and given the formula for leading a happy and rewarding one. That's certainly more than I expected when I bought this book.

Another bonus is the yummy recipes mentioned in the book all appear at the end. They sounded so mouth-watering that I have Neighbor Dorothy's Heavenly Caramel Cake in the oven as I type this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I have read only one other title by Fannie Flagg, I found Can't Wait to Get to Heaven as enjoyable as the other I read. The book is humorous, contemporary and light. The characters are loveable and down-to-earth.

I felt that the author could have expanded upon Elner's journey to Heaven, but was creative with what was written -despite reviewers who are appalled by Flagg's characterization of God. Since none of us know what the afterlife is like (if there is an afterlife), Flagg has made a creative and playful attempt to explain this great mystery of life or the beginning of life in the hereafter.

Loved the book and I recommend it. While the book will certainly not become a great literary classic, it is a nice, easy read for vacation, a plane ride or a weekend by the fire.
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Format: Hardcover
Fannie Flagg has secured her place as one of the great Southern writers in the tradition of Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee,et al. She is a brilliant story teller with a unique and wonderful way with words. It has been a long time since I have laughed out loud while reading a book and a few moments later found myself with tears in my eyes over an unexpected sad turn of events. This is another "must read" from the gifted Flagg.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Fannie Flagg's books and this one is just as good as her others, maybe better. It's so full of spirit, good cheer and optimism. It asks the timeless questions of why we are here and what happens to us when we die. No one really knows, but Elner, the main character in this book, may have the answer for all of us.

Elner, Norma's aunt, was up in the fig tree to get some figs to make a preserve when she disturbed a wasp's nest and got stung and fell off the ladder. This is not the first time she has done that. She has fallen off the ladder other times and drove her niece, Norma, crazy and worried with fear. This time, Elner was knocked out cold. This is just the beginning of an adventure for the townsfolks of Elmwood Springs, Missouri. Elner is taken to Kansas City to the hospital there. Norma and her husband, Macky, followed behind. Ruby and Tots, the local hairdresser takes care of things at Elner's house and the stories just keep on flowing. Bittersweet and heart-warming, it made me, the reader, wish that people would think of me the same way they did Elner. And not only that, it's a reminder to take life a little bit on the easy and slow side because you never know when the last day will come. It may be too late to do all the things you wish you could do or have said.

This book may have a moral to it but it's so wonderfully written. It's a perfect book to read on the front porch drinking your iced tea and relaxing for a day or two. Flagg's writing is always humane and lyrical. You just know these characters as well as you know yourself because you are human as they are. Life doesn't have to be as hard as it sounds ~~ and kicking back once in awhile would do wonders for the soul. Kicking back with this book is definitely the way to do it.

7-25-06
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have yet to be disappointed by a Fannie Flagg book, and I hope I never am. Ms. Flagg has once again graced us with another one of her witty, fun, and outrageous books about our favorite small town in Missouri, Elmwood Springs.

Who knew that so many lives would be affected the day Mrs. Elner Shimfissle fell out of her fig tree and was stung to 'death' by over seventeen wasps? And I just loved meeting up with some of my favorite characters from her previous books 'Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!', and 'Standing in the Rainbow'.

I could sit here all day and write about how wonderful Ms. Flagg's books are, this one in particular (though I do say that after every new Fannie Flagg book I read)...but I won't. All I can tell you is to get out there and read this book as soon as you can get ahold of a copy. You'll laugh-out-loud at Mrs. Elner's quirkiness, and poor Norma's tendency to overreact a bit about EVERYTHING, and all the rest of the colorful towns folk of Elmwood Springs.

Ms. Flagg has a wonderful gift for storytelling, and I just can't recommend her books enough. If you love small town reading, and funny characters, definitely give this a shot. I can't see how anyone couldn't not fall in love with this bunch!
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