Book review: ‘Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man’ by Fannie Flagg

By Larry BALLWAHN | Wilton

Daisy Fay hated her name. How would you like to be named after the vase of flowers that happened to be in your mother’s room? In addition, she was in a dysfunctional if loving family. Her father and mother always seemed to be fighting, mostly because of her father’s tendency to drink too much.

The book covers a time span from 1952 to 1959 and enumerates many of Daisy Fay’s experiences during that seven-year period. Daisy Fay is 11 years old as the story begins. She is in the cowboy stage, perhaps a little unusual for a girl, but she feels her father wanted a boy anyway. Much to her mother’s chagrin, her father gave her a BB gun for her birthday. 

One feature of the book is that several of the movies of the time are named. Partly this is true because her father is a theater projectionist. He doesn’t always intend to be a projectionist, though; he always has a plan. The latest is to partner with an old Air Force buddy, Jimmy Snow, to buy a malt shop in Shell Beach, Miss. To do that, Daisy Fay’s Dad needs $500. He tries several schemes, including getting on game shows. All to no avail. But Daisy Fay’s mother won the necessary $500 in a high stake’s bingo game. She only gave him the money to put down on the shop after he promised not to drink on holidays and not look at any other woman.

While Shell Beach is beautiful, as a place for business, it’s a little risky. You have a three-month tourist business and that is all. And it’s really not a destination for tourists, although it could be. The malt shop is busy, though. It helps that finally Daisy Fay’s mother gave in and they got a beer license. Daisy Fay’s daddy can’t seem to serve a beer, though, without taking one himself. Shell Beach has its share of characters as well as separation between the races. Peachy Wigham owns the Elite Nitespot in the colored section. She’s a favorite of Daisy Fay’s. Kay Bob Benson isn’t. She comes from money and is not afraid to show it; the dislike is mutual and problematic.

With a little help from her father and the weight of BBs, Daisy Fay managed to win the Speckled Trout Rodeo by catching the biggest trout. “Catching” may be a misnomer in this case, but so was the trout’s weight. The feat looked good in the Dashes with Dot column though.

Daisy Fay’s mother finally had enough and left. She wanted Daisy Fay to go with her, but Daisy felt she had to take care of her father. A lot happens: the malt shop mysteriously burns down, and thus their home. Then Daisy Fay’s father comes up with a real money maker. They will manufacture a miracle. Daisy Fay will drown and miraculously the Lord will bring her back to life. Somewhat unbelievably the complicated scheme worked. Daisy Fay was going to be a money magnet on the preaching circuit. What could go wrong? And we’ve covered only a little over half of the book and only sampled that.

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