I really enjoyed this debut novel by Lynda Rutledge. The title is certainly a mouth-full, but the story is a wonderfully delivered family drama that easily slides from present to past.
Faith Bass Darling wakes up on New Year’s Eve certain that this last day of 1999 will be her last. As part of her deal with God, she starts the day by clearing out her mansion of all the beautiful antiques her family has collected over decades.
I thought it was clever how some of the chapters start with the provenance of one of Faith’s antiques and a short description of how that piece played a role in her family history.
Within a few pages of the story, we learn that Faith suffers from dementia and has blank spells where she doesn’t remember anything. The doctor has told her to try to stay away from clutter, so that’s part of the reason she’s bringing her family treasures to her front lawn, she’s having a garage sale.
Soon people all around town know that the lady who lives on the hill is selling things really cheap — “pay what you can” is Faith’s mantra. It drives the local antiques dealer nuts that she can’t “save” all of these possessions from being sold so far beneath their value — but that doesn’t stop her from loading up her van with as much as she can manage!
When Faith’s estranged daughter, Claudia Jean, shows up, Faith thinks that she’s another figment of her faulty mind. There’s a reason Faith hasn’t seen her daughter in years, a lot of which has to do with an heirloom wedding ring that Claudia supposedly stole the night she ran away. Claudia thinks finding that ring would be the key to repairing her relationship with her mother, but the $8,000 desk it was hidden in was sold earlier that day.
During the course of the day, Faith reflects on her life from her idyllic childhood, through her unhappy marriage to Claude, to the accidental death of her son and her falling out with Claudia Jean. But it isn’t just Faith who uses this New Year’s Eve to recall the past — others lend their voice to recounting how their story intertwines with Faith’s.
I liked the layers in the story and how the antiques played a role in people’s lives. There were humorous elements to break up what could have been maudlin. This will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
Check the WRL catalog for Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale