Things Are Lively at Still Meadows Cemetery
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I recently attended my sister-in-law’s funeral. Though she lived the majority of her adult life in California and Texas, she chose to return “home” to St. Louis for her final days and for her burial. After her funeral, we had a celebration of her life. Her son spoke at the event. He mentioned that Fannie Flagg’s book, The Whole Town’s Talking, had something to do with his mother’s decision about a final resting place. He had not read it yet nor had I. Now I have. Now I get why Laura came home to be buried in St. Louis.
This novel tells the story of Elmwood Springs, Missouri from its founding in 1889 through the year 2021. As the book jacket tells us, it is “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.” As we soon find out, this “carrying on in mysterious ways,” is a euphemism for the afterlife these people experience once they are buried in the town’s Still Meadows Cemetery.
If you like books where the author paints a picture of what happens in the afterlife, this book is for you. The basic premise is that the dead are able to talk to each other from their graves thus carrying on the loving relationships they had in life. If that’s not good enough, all the deceased are their best selves – free of dementia, alcoholism, and the like. There is, however, one little problem. Every now and again, someone disappears, never to speak up again. Where did they go? Fear not! The author explains by book’s end.
After reading this story, it was ever so easy to see why my sister-in-law chose to go home for her burial. If indeed there is a “next chapter,” she is buried between two people she loved dearly in life, her grandmother and her Uncle Gig. It is delightful to imagine that they are busily chatting away, catching up on family news, and sharing their love.
Being one who enjoys stories about the afterlife, I liked this book. The only negative comment I have is that in covering 132 years, it had too many people to keep track of, and Fannie Flagg neglected to give us a family tree. I encourage you, therefore, to jot down a few names as you read along. With that “cheat sheet” in hand you will be able to fully enjoy the story.
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