When I read Can’t Wait to get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg, I didn’t realize that there were three books about the same characters. I’ve read them backwards; next Standing in the Rainbow and now Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
Dena Nordstrom, the eponymous Baby Girl, is a young woman of flawless Nordic beauty. Through looks and intelligence she’s broken into television interviewing and is starting to be a valuable commodity. She should have a wonderful life but is actually a mess. She drinks and smokes too much, has no friends, can’t sustain a good relationship with a man and spends too much time alone. The reason for all this is very sad. Her father was killed in the War before she was born and Dena tells people her mother is dead. Actually she disappeared, abandoning her fifteen-year-old daughter. As a result Dena refuses to talk about the past and repulses the loving attentions of her few relations in Elmwood Springs, Missouri.
Events force Dena to confront her problems and the unravelling of the mystery about her mother turns the book into a real page turner. The action moves around between New York in the 1970s and the past in various places, including Vienna. Happily, one of those places is Elmwood Springs, home of Neighbor Dorothy, the broadcasting housewife and Dena’s relatives, Norma and Macky and Norma’s Aunt Elner. I love these characters and find them very funny. Norma is my favourite, with her neat freak ways, her constant worrying about things which may never happen, her threats of imminent nervous breakdown and real goodness and kindness.
This book combines the homey-ness of the other two with a mystery that I wanted solved and couldn't guess the answer to. I really enjoyed it.