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Tag Archives: Fannie Mae Turner

Larry Batchelor’s first novel, Miss Fannie Mae’s Girls, is a compelling story about a small-town family in Georgia. It focuses on the five daughters of Fannie Mae Turner and how they reunite after her death. Though there are many underlying themes here, this novel is just as much about culture in the Deep South as it is about the dynamics of family and specifically, about the love/hate dynamics of sisterhood. And as with most towns and families, there are always secrets and reasons to gossip. The death of Fannie Mae brings Belle (“Lil Buck”), Nettie (“Sis”), Rosalie (“Big Red”), Christine (“Sweetie Pie”), and Elenora (“Girlie”) back together in a time of bereavement, change, and celebration.

There were moments in this novel that literally made me laugh out loud and other moments that made me worry someone would walk in and see I was teary eyed. I loved every time Christine misused a word and anything that came out of the flamboyant Marshall Tate’s mouth. And I’m not much of a cook, but I think I might have to experiment with some of those Southern-style recipes that are printed in the back of the novel.

What is especially interesting about the five sisters is their strong, unique, and clashing personalities. Throughout the story, we see them grow and change because of Fannie Mae’s death. And even though Fannie Mae is not present, she is a well-developed character who is the driving force of this story. Everything that happens is only possible because of her, and even in death she is able to get what she wanted for her daughters: unity and happiness. Although they are initially gathered because of a funeral, they end up celebrating a marriage.  

Culture and tradition are such important elements of this novel, and they are quite beautifully illustrated from the introduction of major and minor characters right down to the subtle presence of delicious Southern food. Another theme in this novel is change and the town is not the same racist, close-minded community it was when Fannie Mae was growing up. In that sense, there are many underlying elements of acceptance and forgiveness on a small and large scale.

While there are great male characters in this novel, the women are the ones that dominate in this story. In a nutshell: Belle is the loyal one, Nettie is the quiet one, Rosalie is the loud one, Christine is the strange one, and Elenora is the actress that never made it. Without giving too much away, Elenora goes through the most positive change, redeeming herself and reclaiming the life she left behind so many years ago despite the rumors. Though she seems one way at the beginning, she surprises everyone, including herself.     

The story of this family coming together is sweet and touching. Larry Batchelor is a promising writer and his ability to show the dynamics of this family makes me wonder what he may come up with next. Each one of these women can stand on her own and I’d love to read more about each one of Miss Fannie Mae’s girls in the future.  

Image of Miss Fannie Mae’s Girls