Review

A Redbird Christmas

by Fannie Flagg



Fannie Flagg serves up some holiday cheer with her charming novel
about the inhabitants of one small Alabama town and how it changes
a man's life forever. Plagued by the relentless Chicago winters and
told by his doctor that he doesn't have long to live,
fifty-something Oswald T. Campbell decides to relocate to warmer
climes. His doctor suggests a health retreat in rural Alabama.
Since he's divorced, has few friends, no children and lives at a
men's hotel, it doesn't take long to put his affairs in
order.

He calls information, gets the number for the post office in Lost
River, and is told by the helpful Frances Cleverdon that the health
resort burned down in 1911. Determined to help the kind gentleman
on the phone (and anxious to raise the male population in her tiny
burg), she assists him in securing bed and board at a neighbor's
house. Betty Kitchen and her ancient mother, Miss Alma, open their
home to Oswald, and they are his first introduction to the sweet
and willful women of Lost River.

Soon after his arrival, he meets Roy, who runs the grocery store
along with his pet redbird, Jack. A redbird is the same as a
cardinal, but Jack's not just any cardinal. He's the unofficial
mascot of the town and, despite his fondness for pecking at the
fruit, is loved by all. Oswald takes long trips upriver with
mailman and fisherman extraordinaire Claude Underwood. Frances
Cleverdon is the town's matchmaker and is convinced that Oswald
would be good for her sister Mildred or perhaps even postmistress
Dottie Nivens, who gave up a successful literary career in New York
City to head up the Lost River Post Office. As he settles in and
gets to know everyone, Oswald feels more and more comfortable. And
he realizes the cough that plagued him in Chicago is almost
nonexistent now.

Into this cozy hamlet comes Patsy, a young backwoods girl with a
pronounced limp. She was left in the care of a neglectful
stepmother when her father left town and she is mostly left to fend
for herself. She journeys into town, dragging her poor twisted leg
behind her in order to see redbird Jack at Roy's grocery store.
Patsy quickly charms everyone in town and they desperately want to
help her. After the girl appears with a hand mark across her face,
Frances is elected to speak to the stepmother, and when she
ventures into the back woods, she learns that the woman who is
supposed to be looking after Patsy is not related to her nor does
she care about her welfare. She has her own kids to raise, she
huffs. So Frances suggests that Patsy come and live with her.
Frances is delighted to be of help to the poor child and thrilled
to finally have a little girl to raise as her own. Months later,
Frances takes the young girl to see a doctor about her leg and is
told that she must have a series of costly operations to correct
the situation. In true Lost River form, the townspeople band
together and hold benefits, bake sales and pancake breakfasts ---
anything they can to raise the necessary funds for Patsy's
operations. And because of the little girl's one special wish, the
town of Lost River is in for the most incredible Christmas holiday
anyone has ever seen.

Quite simply, A REDBIRD CHRISTMAS is a warm and tasty read. Fannie
Flagg is the literary equivalent of buttery cornbread --- comfort
food for the soul. As she did in her previous books, DAISY FAY AND
THE MIRACLE MAN, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and her most recent, STANDING
IN THE RAINBOW, Flagg paints a captivating portrait of long-ago
small town America --- where you left your doors unlocked, borrowed
sugar from a neighbor, and always counted on the kindness of
strangers. This is the perfect gift for your mother, grandmother or
aunt, or anyone who would love to lose themselves in this quaint,
simpler time.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on January 23, 2011

A Redbird Christmas
by Fannie Flagg

  • Publication Date: November 2, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 1400063043
  • ISBN-13: 9781400063048