Thursday, February 14, 2013

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

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale.  Lynda Rutledge. Penguin Group (USA). February 2013. 336 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780425261026..

“Doesn't the soul have a memory?...If not, what’s all this living for?” This is the key question Faith Bass Darling asks Father George Fallow, the local Episcopalian priest. For Faith has late stage Alzheimer’s disease and knows her mind is shutting on and off so regularly that she can’t discriminate between real conversations with old friends and neighbors and the “ghosts” she keeps seeing and conversing with.  Faith was once a woman truly blessed or at least so she thought when she was younger.  But now one terrible tragedy, a marriage of convenience for her late husband, and a daughter who ran away has taught her differently.  She’s dropped her Baptist church-going; indeed in the recent past years she has lived the life of a recluse.  That’s all changed now because God has spoken to her.  She’s got the rest of one day to get it all right.

Everyone has tortured memories which are painful in this novel and yet Lynda Rutledge mixes humor, puzzles and a type of mystery plot in which we learn the separate but oh so connected story of each character. These include Father Fallow who has been a priest so long that he presides over services in a rote fashion that has absolutely no meaning for him; yet Faith is the one person whose honesty and pain have touched him deeply to search more for the next step in his journey.  Then there’s Sheriff John Jaspar who used to be best friends with Faith’s son Michael; he’s an African-American whose rage at racism once, he believes, caused the terrible tragedy in Faith’s life. Yet she continues to be kind to him. 

Faith’s daughter, Claudia, has been running for years but now she’s returned to find her mother selling “everything” in the house on the front lawn, specifically charging from a quarter to a dollar for antique furniture, Tiffany lamps, etc.  Claudia wants one thing which she believes will solve her problems but she’s going to get more than she bargained for and learn a great deal about her “real” problems in the process.  On and on it goes. 

A final group of scenes are so unexpected one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale is a wonderful, engaging novel about what really matters with memories and relationships, about moving past ideals and dealing with reality, about forgiveness, expectations, disappointments, and so, so much more! Superb fiction which should be a bestseller and would make a grand movie!!!! 

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