Most often described as folksy, Pulitzer Prize-nominated Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, written by comedian and actress Fannie Flagg, spent thirty-six weeks at number two on the best-seller charts. At heart a love story about Ruth and Idgie, Flagg's novel is often listed among the great novels written by women. Reviewers often compare the novel to Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegone Days or Alice Walker's The Color Purple.
In an interview with Samuel S. Vaughan, Flagg said, "Strangely enough, the first character in Fried Green Tomatoes was the café, and the town. I think a place can be as much a character in a novel as the people." The actual writing of the novel, however, began when Flagg received a shoebox full of items once belonging to her Aunt Bess who, like Idgie, owned a café near the railroad tracks. Flagg developed the story through countless hours of interviews with old-timers. The story of the town, composed of news clippings, narration, and Mrs. Threadgoode's reminiscences, is told to Evelyn Couch, a woman having a mid-life identity crisis and awakening to a sense of feminism. Evelyn finds therapeutic help in the stories of Mrs. Threadgoode about life in Whistle Stop during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.