“Meet Maggie Fortenberry. Her life seems pretty much perfect – she’s beautiful, charming and successful, just as you’d expect of a former Miss Alabama. But in fact, Maggie is perfectly miserable. By now she should have been living in an elegant house with an adoring husband and children. Instead, she makes a living selling that dream to others – though her estate agency business has lately been going from bad to worse.”
The caption on the back cover sold me, when I perused the bookstore in search of nothing in particular (meaning anything that caught my eye). I immediately jumped to the conclusion that Maggie Fortenberry was a thirty-something less-than-happy woman. I can relate to that, said the thirty-something Louise. Maggie has a plan to end it all, the caption states, and I expected that the story would be a sweet story of Maggie’s serendipitous path back to a joyful life.
Because of my hasty and incorrect assumptions, I Still Dream About You is an uphill novel for me. Maggie is a sixty-something woman and the story so far centers on the past instead of her path ahead. For this reason, I have decided to divide my shared reading experience in two, which is a first for me. I have read to page 151 and left my bookmark in the middle of a chapter. (The shock and horror of any reader!)
I easily relate to one facet of Maggie Fortenberry, despite the age difference – her defining label. Maggie Fortenberry won the Miss Alabama tiara as a young woman and she has been a former Miss Alabama, the label, everyone used to characterize her and the one she used herself, ever since. From being a proud title, her status as former Miss Alabama has evolved into a dark reminder of what she isn’t any more and all the other things she hasn’t become.
The starting point of one of abandon and the quiet black hole that is depression, but Flagg’s storytelling shows the quirkiness of the characters around Maggie and the absurdity of Maggie’s train of thought. I have no doubt that “I Still Dream About You” is a wonderful reading experience; I still haven’t come to terms with my misconception.
To be continued…