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Standing in the Rainbow Mass Market Paperback – June 3, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 370 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the talented storyteller whose Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe became a beloved bestseller and a successful film comes a sprawling, feel-good novel with an old-fashioned beginning, middle and end. The predominant setting is tiny Elmwood Springs, Mo., and the protagonist is 10-year-old Bobby Smith, an earnest Cub Scout also capable of sneaking earthworms into his big sister's bed. His father is the town pharmacist and his mother is local radio personality Neighbor Dorothy (whom readers will recognize from Flagg's Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!). In 1946, Harry Truman presides over a victorious nation anticipating a happy and prosperous future. During the next several decades, the plot expands to include numerous beguiling characters who interact with the Smith family among them, the Oatman Family Southern Gospel Singers, led by matriarch Minnie, who survive misadventures galore to find fame after an appearance on the Arthur Godfrey show in 1949, the same year Bobby's self-esteem soars when he wins the annual town bubble gum contest. Also on hand are tractor salesman Ham Sparks, who becomes amazingly successful in politics, despite his marriage to overwhelmingly shy Betty Raye Oatman, and well-liked mortician Cecil Figgs, a sponsor of Neighbor Dorothy, who, as a bachelor in the mid-century South, also enjoys a secret life. The effects of changing social mores are handled deftly; historical events as they impact little Elmwood Springs are duly noted, and everything is infused with the good humor and joie de vivre that are Flagg's stock-in-trade.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Flagg brings her readers back to 1940s Elmwood, MO, when a family of white gospel singers bursts into town.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080411935X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804119351
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (370 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,143 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
I am an avid fan of Fannie Flagg and have read all of her novels. Her latest, Standing in the Rainbow, is nothing short of miraculous. I loved it! The writing, as always, is quick, light and honest, but it is the genius storytelling in this novel that makes it a 5-star read for me.
Standing in the Rainbow tells the story of the lives of the citizens of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, spanning through five decades beginning in the 40s. We have Dorothy Smith, hostess of the radio program, The Neighbor Dorothy Show that is transmitted live from her own living room. And Tot Whooten, the town hair stylist, who seems to be a walking, talking advertisement for bad luck. Also in town are the Goodnight sisters; Ida Jenkins, a wanna-be socialite; the Oatman Family Gospel Singers; Hamm Sparks, a very ambitious salesman; and Doc Smith, the local pharmacist. This novel has them all and more -- every character under the sun, a perfect blend of a neighborhood.
I wasn't even born during most of the time frame this novel takes place in, but Fannie Flagg sure makes me wish I had been! A highly atmospheric story that evokes feelings of nostalgia and longing for the good ole days. The characters are unforgettable, Elmwood Springs is the perfect town, and after reading this book, you will feel as if you've lived there your entire life.
Not much by the way of plot, however. Standing in the Rainbow is more of a slice-of-life novel, a darn good story about the lives of people in a small town and the events that take place throughout the years. Engrossing, funny, sweet, wistful and warmhearted, all Fannie Flagg fans will delight in this novel, and new fans will discover a treasure of an author within these pages.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fans of Fannie Flagg's earlier novels will love this new one, and I predict she'll pick up a whole lot of new fans, too. This book is just wonderful: an unforgettable and yet comfortable voice tells us everything we need to know about everyone in town, yet never tells one thing more than we need to know.
The true subtlety of Miss Flagg's work lies not in the richly softspoken sentences, the dead-on dialogue, the gentle humor and tart observation that are her comic hallmarks. It's what she leaves out of the story, the parts she knows not to tell.
I happen to think Fannie Flagg is the most underrated American author, except by her readers, who love her. She's the finest comic voice working in fiction today, and when things take a serious turn -- as they do in this sweet, lovely, summery novel -- she can flat break your heart.
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Format: Hardcover
The year, 1946; the place, Elmwood Springs, Missouri. Life is good and filled with unlimited opportunities and promise, the future never seemed brighter, and spirits are lifted daily, by the "lady with the smile in her voice," radio homemaker, Neighbor Dorothy Smith, as she passes along recipes, friendly advice, local news, and a little entertainment, each morning, from her living room on station WDOT. Meet the Smith family, their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, and revel in the joys of small town life, as Fannie Flagg takes the reader on an amazing fifty year odyssey, rich in insight, wisdom, humor, and truth. This is storytelling at its very best, filled with interesting twists and surprises, vivid scenes, engaging writing, and clever dialogue. But it's Ms Flagg's brilliant characterizations that make this book stand out and sparkle. These are complex and endearing, real people, warts and all, not cliched, cartoon characters, and Ms Flagg is able to breathe life into each and every one of them. Standing In The Rainbow is an intriguing and captivating story, sometimes poignant, often uplifting, but always touching and heartwarming; a story that captures the imagination as it pulls you in, and introduces a whole new generation to the simple wonders of living in a small town. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but mostly you'll remember what it was like to walk with your family down a decorated Main Street at Christmas to buy your tree at the town lot for $1.50, sit on a stool and have a sundae at the drug store soda fountain, watch a whole afternoon of movies, every Saturday, for a nickle, and listen to the voice of a friendly "neighbor" each day on the radio. And there was never a doubt that "something wonderful was always just about to happen..."
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Format: Hardcover
Fannie Flagg holds an important place in our national heart. Blessed with a down-home ability to tell stories and possessing a warmhearted view of the human condition, Flagg, at her best, combines humor and pathos to construct novels which educate us through laughter and tears. Her most recent effort, "Standing in the Rainbow," is a likable, kind and compassionate work, but it lacks both the power and integrity of her best work, "Fried Green Tomoatoes." Ultimately, reading "Rainbow" is much like trying to eat a five-pound box of chocolates. What begins as a treat ends as a sugar-saturated burden.
"Rainbow" is actually contains three distinct narratives, any one of which would have been subject material enough to carry the novel. By chopping her novel into these distinct segments, Flagg diminishes the impact of the whole. The best of the three is the fist two hundred pages; in it, we are transported back in time to the post World War II era. Young Bobby Smith, whose mother Dorothy serves as the modest voice of midwestern maternal sensibility on her morning radio show, explores life with a zest and innocence. His beautifully drawn character shines, and Flagg expertly creates a mid-century everychild whose hopes, frustrations and energy mirror the ebullient optimism of the period.
Unforunately, when Bobby disappears from the novel, he is replaced by Hamm Sparks, an aspiring politican who is part Huey Long and Bill Clinton. The middle section of "Rainbow" sadly reads as a dumbed-down "All the King's Men." Since the scope of "Rainbow" is a half-century, Flagg spends the final hundred pages whirling the reader through the last three decades of the twentieth century.
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