Nature Versus Nurture
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg is both a contemporary and historical read. It is set in the World War II years and also modern day. It is a marvellous read and a tribute to the WASPS – all those brave American women pilots who flew in World War II.
The novel is a journey of discovery. Sookie wants to find out who she is. “Everyone seemed to love Sookie but Sookie.” Sookie feels she has under achieved her whole life. Her discovery enables her to say “Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.” Sookie, far from being the weak woman she thinks she is, is actually incredibly strong.
The novel is full of strong women who take control of their lives. Fritzi and her sisters were all strong women during the war. They knew “If America was lost then there was no hope.” They, like many other women during the war years, kept the home front going. They not only put on brave faces, they also took over the men’s jobs. “None of us felt like a hero.” They were indispensible to the war effort but as the war ended, the women were expected to return to their traditional roles in the home. They were under appreciated. This book goes a long way to address that.
There is the theme of nature versus nurture. Are we who we are because of our genes? Or our upbringing? It’s a fascinating debate and well covered by Fannie Flagg.
The whole novel is concerned with the theme of adoption. To reach your late fifties and to find out you are not who you thought you were comes as a shock. “She supposed she would still have looked like herself on the outside, but she would have been someone entirely different on the inside.” Fannie Flagg has the character intimately examine their life to see what made them who they are.
There is the theme of love throughout. Love takes many forms. Even if people drive us mad, we can still love them.
Fannie Flagg is a marvellous author. She writes with depth, feeling and at times humour that had me laughing out loud. Fannie Flagg knows how to weave an epic story. She knows what makes people tick. And I know that whenever I pick up a Fannie Flagg novel I am going to love it.