Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

Set over one 24 hour period on the last day of 1999 and filled with family, dysfunctional, estranged, and tragic, eccentric and endearing characters, and a kooky, appealing premise, this novel is as fun and entertaining as the whole Texas outdoors. Faith Bass Darling, of the founding Bass' of Bass, Texas, hears God instruct her to have a garage sale of all her belongs (many of which are beyond priceless) because this is her last day on Earth. Faith is the richest woman in town, estranged from her only surviving child, she hasn't left her home in years and, as only she and her doctor know, is suffering from Alzheimer's. And a garage sale of the family heirloom antiques she has guarded so carefully during her lifetime is just not in Faith's usual character.

Local antiques dealer Bobbie Ann, who, while coveting all of the things that Faith is giving away, vaguely telling people to pay what they can for each priceless antique, knows that something isn't right and she calls her old friend Claudia Jean, Faith's daughter, who blew out of town long ago and never looked back. Claudia comes home to save the only thing she cared about but she may be too late. As the sale goes on and Faith slides in and out of reality, flashbacks and the appearance of other characters flesh out the back story of how Faith came to be a lonely old lady who doesn't leave her antique-filled house.

Rutledge has told this completely charming tale with a deft and light touch. The surface is chatty and thoroughly enjoyable but there is also a depth here and a more than passing acquaintance with the darker realities of life: racism, classism, aging, and a family at the mercy of a hateful person. Much like Faith's dragging all her possessions out of the house to be displayed on her formerly immaculate, perfect lawn, the tale of the darker undercurrents is slowly exposed to the view of the reader, showing that Faith's maintaining of appearances throughout the whole of her life was just that, a maintaining that masked harder truths.

Told from multiple perpectives, the story reveals itself slowly, creating a perfect narrative tension. Both addled but still strong and imposing Faith and self-focused for her own emotional protection Claudia Jean are sympathetic characters and the reader roots for them both even when they seem to be at cross-purposes. There is a Texas-sized load of humor here so readers can still smile through outrage and sadness. Each chapter starts with the provenance of one of the antiques that reflects the action in the coming chapter. These provenances are fascinating as they don't always match the story of the piece as Faith knows it, just as life under the surface has been so different than proper pearls and gloves would have suggested.

A wonderful, pleasing read that caused more than its share of grins from me, this has hidden depths to it and will stay with the reader long after the covers are closed.

Thanks to Megan at Amy Einhorn Books for sening me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this book was fabulous as well. I didn't think about it, but you're so right - one of the issues explored was classism. I loved the subtle way Rutledge explore issues.


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