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Buster Midnight's Cafe

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  1,968 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
May Anna Kovacks was discovered on the dustry streets of Butte, Montana and went on to become a Hollywood star. War, fame, marriage, love, and heartbreak came and went. What never changed was the bond she shared with her two best friends, Effa Commander and Whippy Bird. When scandal, murder, and betrayal made a legend of May Anna, only Effa and Whippy Bird could set the re ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 1990)
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Community Reviews

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I've been wanting to read Sandra Dallas for a long time, so I was eager to get to this one for the October meeting with my "book lunch girls." I finished it this rainy Saturday morning while wrapped in a blanket in bed.

I think I started the book with a misconception. Sue, who picked this month's book, had said we needed some lighter reading than we'd had recently, and she called the narrator "hilarious." My fourteen-year-old daughter, who read the book before I got to it, also said the book was
Jun 28, 2010 Jaime rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll be returning to the Sandra Dallas section in the library after reading this one, my first of her novels.

I loved the voice of Effa Commander and, through her, Whippy Bird's inputs. Characters' lives, locations, and immediate surroundings felt fully fleshed out; I could imagine going into Effa Commander's kitchen, pulling open a drawer, and actually finding silverware. The rich combination of characters and storytelling is what made this book wholly satisfying, but the ending was really rewar
Oct 22, 2014 Coleen rated it really liked it
Recommended to Coleen by: A lady at the Sandra Dallas book signing
Shelves: library
I have probably owned every one of Sandra Dallas' books over the years and this is the first one I've read. I know I did own it but maybe donated it or maybe it's buried on my shelf. In any case, I checked out the audio book from the library. I listened to it in one day.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Dallas at a book signing last week and was so enchanted by her that I told myself I have to read something by her soon! Mission accomplished!

Buster Midnight's Cafe is a sweet and tangy book abou
Aug 04, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
I hesitate to label this book "amazing," but I'm giving it five stars because it is SUCH a charming read and an excellent story about the power of friendship. Sandra Dallas is a pro at developing characters, and these characters were quirky and lovable and totally "Montana." Having lived in Butte for 4 years of my life, I was impressed with how well the author captured the atmosphere and peculiar charm of the place.
Jan 02, 2009 Margaret rated it it was amazing
What a find! Sandra Dallas is a wonderful, authentic American writer. I like her as much as Billie Letts. I can't figure out where she comes up with the names of her characters - but I love them, especially Effa Commander and Whippy Bird.

I am still reading this book, but I know when I finish it I will have that forlorn feeling of losing my best friends.

Seek this one out, and enjoy!
Oct 06, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of books--in fact I read all day long for a living--and it takes a lot to stir me to tears--this book did that. Sandra Dallas's characters truly touch me. She is one of the best at characterization writing today--I loved this novel and want Whippy Bird and Effa Commander to be my best friends, too!
Dec 21, 2011 Marleen rated it really liked it
It was by happenstance that I came across a few reviews of Sandra Dallas books, and I liked what I read. Another total coincidence is that I actually picked her first book written in1990 to start with.
I will admit that her style is a bit reminiscent of Fannie Flagg or Billie Letts, both authors I utterly adore.
Buster Midnight’s Café is indeed very sweet, compelling, funny, melancholic and charming. It’s the story of three friends from the time they were very young children (in the 1920ies) to th
Jan 02, 2011 Margaret rated it it was ok
I've enjoyed other Sandra Dallas books more ("The Persian Pickle Club" in particular) - this one is a slighter effort and one that never gains as much heft as her other titles, and since, in truth, her books aren't of the "hefty" kind, that doesn't really leave much meat on the bone... Although primarily set in Butte, MT, the book falls into the "southern female story of recent vintage with quirky characters" genre (think Ya Ya Sisterhood...), and, personally, I think I'm now done with that genr ...more
Mary Helene
Jul 26, 2008 Mary Helene rated it it was ok
Recommended to Mary Helene by: Susan Martin Cooper
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2012 Melinda rated it really liked it
As if character names such as Effa Commander and Whippy Bird alone do not merit a reading of this novel, the scandals, true friendships and portrayal of Butte,Montana just might. This novel elaborates on the melodrama-esque nature of early Hollywood as May Anna Kovaks, now Marion Street, finds her stride as an up and coming cinema celebrity, all while her best friends, Effa Commander and Whippy Bird follow her rise to fame from their quiet corner in Butte.
I liked how true and lasting the friend
Blaine DeSantis
Dec 09, 2009 Blaine DeSantis rated it really liked it
What a great first novel from Sandra Dallas. Loved her setting of Montana, and the nicknames of all the characters. To me it really showed the way things used to be in that era. Everyone striving for a better life. Some went into movies, others athletics, some stayed home.

And things have not changed since then. When you look at todays youth you see the same patterns of people trying to elevate themselves. Some with music, others TV, reality shows, whatever they can do to make it upward in socie
Apr 11, 2012 Sherry rated it really liked it
Sandra Dallas writes the most lifelike warm stories and I have enjoyed reading several of her books lately. When I began this one it seemed a little trite and silly with the names and all. My husband started out his legal career working for Anaconda Copper Corp. and Butte Montana was the center of things other than NYC where we were. Anyway, that kept me reading and I eventually was pulled right in. The characters are so real and it made me feel the friendship and want to see it grow. Charming b ...more
Jun 30, 2015 Becky rated it liked it
I just finished reading this very early book written by a very good author. If Dallas were writing it today, it would be a better book. This one drags in places, gives us information we don’t need and glosses over information we do need. The ending is a bit ambiguous also.
On the other hand this is a good book with interesting, believable characters. The story is true to the time setting, including some of the brands and slang words used. She uses humor to
Nov 10, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed this book so much.
It was a well done STORY.
I hung on to it all----the characters, timeline, the cityscape were all so well done.
You really grew to love, understand & care for the main characters.
I laughed out loud, then turned right around and cried for the next 5 pages.
A very sweet tale of love, war, old Hollywood and life in general.
Oct 11, 2010 Gail rated it liked it
I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it. Part of that had to do with the super job the reader did of inhabiting these characters. It was a spunky, endearing story of female friendship, and I enjoyed listening. It was also a love letter to Butte, Montana, which is more interesting than you might think. Or at least more interesting than I expected.
May 23, 2014 Victoria added it
Shelves: 2014
This is a tough book to rate. It is told from the perspective of two old ladies whose childhood friends grew up to be a movie star snd a boxer and they are writing their book to set the story straight....As such it has some language and it is pretty full of not too graphic prostitution, hollywood glamour, and teenage carrying on. The last one hundred pages were the best, but somehow you needed to know all that you did to make those last pages so good. When it's all said and done this is an excel ...more
Jan 24, 2010 Wendy rated it it was amazing
I think Sandra Dallas is my new favorite author! I love the quirky characters and their goodness. She adds a little mystery and a lot of humor. The storyline for this book takes place in Butte, Montana before during and after WWII. It's about three childhood friends, the "Unholy Three" and the path their lives follow from childhood to senior citizens.
Sep 02, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
A great book with down to earth characters. It takes place in Butte, Montana and Hollywood, CA. 3 women friends since age 5 grow up and while one becomes a movie star legend the ties that bind them together endure through WWII to old age, through love and one single act of violence. Both the female and male characters in this book are strong. Great read.
Connietrue Simons
Feb 23, 2013 Connietrue Simons rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Seriously one of the best books I've read in a long time. I expected nothing from the title and, dare I say, the cover, but was so surprised. Had a narrative flavor reminiscent of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and not because they both mention cafes in the title. Made me laugh and cry out loud. To me, that is the mark of a good book..
Aug 31, 2008 Claire rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Most definitely not a deep read, but I found this book to be a highly imaginative, entertaining read. The combination of such ridiculous names as Whippy Bird and Effa Commander as well as the drama of a lifelong friendship, makes for a most satisfying light read.
Sep 29, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story, however in the first half of the book it was hard to tell the relevance of some events. That being said, as I read on I loved not being able to predict short and long term outcomes in the story. A touching read.
Patty Johnson
Oct 03, 2012 Patty Johnson rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I was so sorry when it ended. I'm very puzzled by the 3 stars many reviewers gave it. Wish I could have known Effa Commander and Whippy Bird and the rest of the crew from Butte. Not so sure about Marion Street, though.
Jan 07, 2014 River rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up at my local Goodwill. I'd never heard of it or Sandra Dalls, but the cover looked promising (I can be fickle about my books, they only cost $.50 with my student discount), so I bought it. I'm so glad I did!

Before BMC I'd only read Mark Twain for local color stories, and I wasn't able to enjoy them as much as I wanted to because of the racism. This book didn't have any (that I recall). Although this isn't my typical reading material, I usually stick with horror stories, I lo
Bonnie Carruth
Feb 02, 2014 Bonnie Carruth rated it liked it
I was going to read this during the Superbowl. I started yesterday and sailed through in. Dallas writes a good story. Some parts of the plot you see coming. Some of the reviews I read called her a regional writer, I suppose that means she sets her book in the west of Montana, Colorado etc. So what?When people set their books in New York or Boston they are regional writers also. If you don't have a sense of a region you are a bad writer.I like it that if you read Louis L'Amour you can follow the ...more
Kevin Preston
May 16, 2014 Kevin Preston rated it really liked it
I really like the way Sandra Dallas writes. I've read several of her books and I find her informal playful style to be enjoyable and heart-warming. Her stories are a little more wholesome than I typically like, but sometimes I think that's a good thing. This particular story about the friendship of three women golden age of film was so fascinating because it had the Hollywood glamour juxtaposed with the realities of living in the mining boom of the West. The story had some predictable moments, b ...more
Mar 19, 2016 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
I had I read the Persian Pickle Club several times but never read another Sandra Dallas book until now. I chose to read Buster Midnight's Cafe because it was her first book. It is now my favorite even above Persian Pickle Club! I loved this book and hated for it to end. As other readers have stated it was as if these characters were friends of mine, it was just written so intimately.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe or other books that fea
Anne Hawn Smith
May 27, 2011 Anne Hawn Smith rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this book. I have read three other books by Sandra Dallas and I really loved them, but this one seems a little contrived. The characters are more caricatures, and from the wrong part of the country. I could easily believe that May Anna, Effa Commander and Whippy Bird came from a small town in Texas rather than Montana. The names, grammar and some of the actions seem more like the deep South. On the other hand, the fact that May Anna's mother has "gentlemen callers" an ...more
Oct 11, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it
This delightful tale is about the unholy three--three women who grew up together in Butte, MT, and their lives. The characters are memorable and colloquial. They share more than just friendship, and their friendship is permanent.
With names like Whippy Bird, May Anna, and Effa Commander, these three spirited women share laughter, love, tragedies, and triumphs.

I enjoyed this book more for the characters than for the plot. I think their voices will stay with me.
Aug 15, 2014 Mkingsford rated it really liked it
This books starts off rather slow. It is a story about the Unholy three - 3 girls who grow up in Butte Montana. The story really doesn't kick in until a bit over 1/3 of the way through the book. Then I couldn't put it down. 2 of the unholy three stay in butte the other May Anna heads for Hollywood to become a movie star. Great story of friendship through the tough times and the good times. Would I recommend it? You bet.
Jan 31, 2015 Antoinette rated it really liked it
Sandra Dallas has produced an excellent work of historical fiction set in Butte, Montana from Prohibition to Post-WWII era. The author has also written nine nonfiction books on the Western USA. Her research and attention to detail shine through in this well-written novel. The characters are believable and likable as well as quirky and entertaining. Looking forward to reading more by this author.
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Award-winning author SANDRA DALLAS was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. Sandra’s novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films.

A journalism graduate of the University of Denver, Sandra began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. A staff
More about Sandra Dallas...

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