With home-cooked, Southern literary flair, Fannie Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes
) returns with Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
"Baby Girl," as she is lovingly referred to by her sweet, country cousins, is Dena Nordstrom, a tall, blonde, corn-fed girl who makes it big in Manhattan. Ms. Nordstrom is now the top TV anchorwoman in the city, beating out veteran journalists and making ungodly amounts of money. Although her life seems charmed, Dena is frazzled and miserable. She drinks uncontrollably, is a borderline compulsive liar, and is forced to undergo therapy because of her stress-induced ulcer. Her psychiatrist, Dr. O'Malley, falls madly in love with her, of course, and sends the blonde bombshell to a close colleague, Dr. Diggers. Living up to her name, Diggers shovels up a mountain of dysfunction and forces Dena to face her mysterious past; all the while the good doctor reports back to brokenhearted O'Malley about her patient's progress. Meanwhile, back at the station, Ms. Nordstrom has made friends and enemies in very high places. Her greatest ally is Howard Kingsley, the Cronkitesque reporter who wields power with more ease than most seasoned politicos: "He closed the door and handed the driver a ten-dollar bill. 'Take this young lady where she wants to go for me, will you? And be careful, she's valuable property.'" It's a good thing she has friends like that, because her boss, Ira Wallace, makes George Costanza from Seinfeld
look like a scrupulous saint. When Wallace hires a nasty but effective mole by the name of Sidney Capello to dig up garbage on celebrities, Nordstrom has a head-on collision with his sense of ethics (or lack thereof) and gets Capello canned. Or so she thinks. Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
is very much like its star, Dena Nordstrom: pretty, scattered, confused, and sometimes interesting. It's a long ride from the Whistle Stop Cafe, and readers who enjoy Jan Karon's Mitford Fall series
will most likely be the biggest fans of Flagg's third novel.
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From Publishers Weekly
Because so much of Flagg's third novel takes place in the 1970s media-celebrity echelons of New York City, it doesn't offer the regional and historical color and texture of its predecessor, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Instead, Flagg's achievement here lies in a well-choreographed story of loyalty and survival that zigzags deftly across the post-war years, panning in on the never-changing decency of Elmwood Springs, Mo., then pulling back to watch national TV news devolve into sensationalism?all the while drawing us into the compelling life of Dena Nordstrom. Star of America's most popular morning news show, Dena shuts herself down and shuts men out for painful reasons that are unknown even to her. Only after the stress of ambush- and sound-byte journalism brings on a hemorrhaging ulcer does Dena slowly unearth the scandal that, when Dena was four, drove her mother from Elmwood Springs, hometown of the war hero father that Dena never knew. That her mother's nemesis is a newspaper gossipmonger is nicely ironic, although her mother's secret shame seems slightly larger than life. In contrast, Dena's college friend Sookie and great aunt Elner are reminders of how well Flagg can cook up memorable women from the most down-to-earth ingredients, while a cameo by Tennessee Williams is uncannily true to life. Fans may be sorry at first to leave Elmwood Springs for the big city, but even the most reluctant will get wrapped up in Dena's search for the truth about her family and her past. Author tour; Random House audio.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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