All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Redbird Christmas, by Fannie Flagg

In the spirit of the holidays, a Christmas story seems appropriate, and none better than from the consummate Southern storyteller Fannie Flagg. Flagg is best known for her book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, but also produced bestselling novels Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, and Standing in the Rainbow. A Redbird Christmas features Oswald T. Campbell, an orphan named for the can of soup found with him when abandoned as a baby. At age 52, he is diagnosed with untreatable emphysema and told to put his estate in order. As a piece of additional advice, his doctor suggested he move from his native Chicago to a more hospitable climate and produced a brochure for an inn in Lost River, Alabama. Divorced and without family, Campbell decides to visit Lost River and make it his temporary home, figuring that he won't make it more than a few months anyway.

Lost River is a charming little community in which everyone knows everyone else. The inn had long since burned, so he finds a room to rent instead. Although a small town has its advantages and disadvantages, groups like "the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society" spiced things up a bit with their secret attempts at doing good, such as decorating the community Christmas tree. The club's motto was "To Toot One's Own Horn is Unattractive."

Campbell becomes a cause celebre in the small community of Lost River, with every available female in the area vying for his interest. He makes friends with the best fisherman in town, learns about an old feud between this side of the river and the other side, struggles with alcoholism, befriends an abandoned girl who needs medical treatment, meets the local storekeeper who keeps a pet redbird, and miraculously, Oswald begins to return to health.

A popcorn read, and caramel popcorn at that, A Redbird Christmas is predictable but sweet. Flagg is an engaging storyteller, spicing her narrative with humor, realistic characters, believable dialogue, and just the right amount of eccentricity.

A Redbird Christmas was published by Random House in 2005.

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