August 12 marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Fannie Flagg‘s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, a charming ode to female friendship that is at turns heartwarming and heartbreaking. In honor of the novel’s timeless popularity, we’ve rounded up our favorite books like Fried Green Tomatoes. Check out our suggestions below, complete with publishers’ descriptions.
The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg
Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.
Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.
With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she’s directed, her mother gets described as a “tap-dancing child abuser.” Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past.
Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sister, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Four mothers, four daughters, four families
whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later, the stories and history continue.
With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.
In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.
Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut is, as Kristin Hannah says, “packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart.” It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.
The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney
Meet The Saving Graces, Four Of The Best Friends A Woman Can Ever Have.
For 10 years, Emma, Rudy, Lee, and Isabel have shared a deep affection that has helped them deal with the ebb and flow of expectations and disappointments common to us all. Calling themselves the Saving Graces, the quartet is united by understanding, honesty, and acceptance — a connection that has grown stronger as the years go by…
Though these sisters of the heart and soul have seen it all, talked through it all, Emma, Rudy, Lee, and Isabel will not be prepared for a crisis of astounding proportions that will put their love and courage to the ultimate test.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
Stella Payne is 42, divorced, a high-powered investment analyst, mother of 11-year-old Quincy and she does it all. In fact, if she doesn’t do it, it doesn’t get done, from Little League carpool duty to analyzing portfolios to folding the laundry and bringing home the bacon.
She does it all well, too, if her chic house, personal trainer, BMW, and her loving son
are any indication. So what if there’s been no one to share her bed with lately, let alone rock her world? Stella doesn’t mind it too much; she probably wouldn’t have the energy for loveand all of love’s nasty falloutanyway.
But when Stella takes a spur-of-the-moment vacation to Jamaica, her world gets rocked to the corenot just by the relaxing effects of the sun and sea and an island full of attractive men, but by one man in particular. He’s tall, lean, soft-spoken, Jamaican, smells of citrus and the oceanand is half her age. The tropics have cast their spell and Stella soon realizes she has come to a cataclysmic juncture: not only must she confront her hopes and fears about love, she must question all of her expectations, passions, and ideas about life and the way she has lived it.
Told in Stella’s own exuberant, dead-on, dead honest voice, How Stella Got Her Groove Back is full of Terry McMillan’s signature humor, heart, and insight. More than a love story, it is ultimately a novel about how a woman saves her own lifeand what she must risk to do it.
The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts
Caney Paxton wanted his cafe to have the biggest and brightest sign in Eastern Oklahoma-the opening soon part was supposed to be just a removable, painted notice. But a fateful misunderstanding gave Vietnam vet Caney the flashiest joke in the entire state.
Twelve years later, the once-busy highway is dead and the sign is as worn as Caney, who hasn’t ventured outside the diner since it opened. Then one blustery December day, a thirtyish Crow woman blows in with a three-legged dog in her arms and a long-buried secret on her mind. Hiring on as a carhop, Vena Takes Horse is soon shaking up business, the locals, and Caney’s heart…as she teaches them all about generosity of spirit, love, and the possibility of promise-just like the sign says.
The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith
Meet Georgia, SuSu, Teeny, Diane, and Linda — five women who’ve been best friends through 30 years since high school. Sit in when they don their red hats and purple outfits to join Atlanta’s Ladies Who Lunch for a delicious monthly serving of racy jokes, iced tea and chicken salad, baskets of sweet rolls, the latest Buckhead gossip, and most of all — lively support and caring through the ups and downs of their lives.
When Diane discovers her banker husband has a condo (with mistress) that he bought with their retirement funds, the Red Hats swing into action and hang him with his own rope in a story that serves up laughter, friendship, revenge, high school memories, long-lost loves, a suburban dominatrix, and plenty of white wine and junk food. From the 1960s to the present, The Red Hat Club is a funny, unforgettable novel that shows the power women can find when they accept and support each other.
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, 14-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin.
Cold Sassy Tree is the undeniably entertaining and extraordinarily moving account of small-town Southern life in a bygone era. Brimming with characters who are wise and loony, unimpeachably pious and deliciously irreverent, Olive Ann Burns’s classic bestseller is a timeless, funny, and resplendent treasure.
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale
“Why won’t you just tell me what’s in that cake?” I’d been trying to get Laine’s recipe for years. We all had.
When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.
In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food — especially dessert — is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family — even if the threat is something you cannot see.
In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws… from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
Sometimes you have to return to the place where you began, to arrive at the place where you belong.
It’s the early 1970s. The town of Ringgold, Georgia, has a population of 1,923, one traffic light, one Dairy Queen, and one Catherine Grace Cline. The daughter of Ringgold’s third-generation Baptist preacher, Catherine Grace is quick-witted, more than a little stubborn, and dying to escape her small-town life.
Every Saturday afternoon, she sits at the Dairy Queen, eating Dilly Bars and plotting her getaway to Atlanta. And when, with the help of a family friend, the dream becomes a reality, she immediately packs her bags, leaving her family and the boy she loves to claim the life she’s always imagined. But before things have even begun to get off the ground in Atlanta, tragedy brings Catherine Grace back home. As a series of extraordinary events alter her perspectiv — and sweeping changes come to Ringgold itself — Catherine Grace begins to wonder if her place in the world may actually be, against all odds, right where she began.
Intelligent, charming, and utterly readable, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen marks the debut of a talented new literary voice.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard’s world changes forever when Caitlin Somers chooses her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomes Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, an enchanting place where the two friends become “summer sisters.”
Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin begs Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go — because she wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend — her summer sister — still has the power to break her heart.
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
From bestselling author Kristin Hannah comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship…
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all — beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate.
Beaches by Iris Rainer Dart
Loudmouthed, redheaded Cee Cee Bloom has her sights set on Hollywood. Bertie White, quiet and conservative, dreams of getting married and having children. In 1951, their childhood worlds collide in Atlantic City. Keeping in touch as pen pals, they reunite over the years… always near the ocean.
Powerful and moving, this novel follows Cee Cee and Bertie’s extraordinary friendship over the course of 30 years as they transform from adolescents into adults. A bestselling novel that became a hugely successful film, Beaches is funny, heartbreaking, and a tale that should be a part of every woman’s library.
Which of these books have you read? Tell us in the comments!