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Lynda Rutledge’s debut novel, Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale, is a novel that touches the reader’s heartstrings on many levels.
The story opens with Faith Bass Darling and her midnight revelation from God. His message was clear. December 31, 1999, would be her last day on earth. Her time had come to leave, but not before she disposed of five generations of Bass family legacy.
In the small town of Bass, Texas, a magnificent turn-of-the-century mansion stood proudly at 101 Old Waco Road. Granted, the last decade had taken its toll on the unkempt lawns and gardens. It wasn’t easy for an eccentric and hermit-like widow, Faith Bass Darling, to manage or even care much for the grounds. What was once the envy and awe of all the townspeople was as tired as its owner. With the help of some of the neighborhood boys, the grounds in front of the stately wrap-around porch began to fill with priceless heirlooms—armoires, oriental rugs, sideboards, secretaries, china cabinets, and chest o’drawers, but not the Louis XV Elephant Clock.
Thankfully, Bobbie Blankenship, owner of Yesteryear Antique Shop, had caught wind of the crazy goings on at Waco Road when Mrs. Hackmeyer happened into her shop with a nineteenth-century armoire she had picked up for $20. Certain it was worth more, she decided to see what Ms. Blankenship would give her for it. When Bobbie learned what Ms. Hackmeyer paid for the piece and where she got it, she wasted no time flipping the open sign to closed and racing out to her blue minivan; hoping and praying she wasn’t too late to resurrect a lucid moment in Faith. At the very minimum, she would rescue some of the priceless antiques. Before arriving at the mansion, Bobbie connects with Faith’s estranged daughter, Claudia Jean. Having not spoken in nearly twenty years, Bobbie is shocked to learn Claudia had been living in Houston for the past ten years and couldn’t understand why her childhood best friend never reached out to her. While the notion was perplexing, it wasn’t important at the moment. Bobbie needed Claudia’s help in stopping the madness that was escalating.
Once at the mansion, Bobbie is completely unprepared for the shark frenzy of polyester, Saturday morning yard-salers crawling over every inch of the mansion’s lawn. The alarming image was like a colony of ants at a honey festival only these ants were carting away regal antiquities for less than pennies on the dollar. Thankfully, she was able to head off nosy neighbor Mrs. Quattlebaum before she absconded with one of the priceless Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps. There was no comfort in this moment, however, because the day was quite young and shenanigans was putting it mildly toward what would unfold on that last day of 1999 at 101 Waco Road.
Lynda Rutledge has written a story that touched this reader deeply. The fact that Faith Bass Darling has capitulated to Alzheimer’s in her later years did not discourage the author from painting a woman who was still elegant and regal in spite of the debilitating disease. This is the essence of a writer who knows how to direct her plot. She surrounds Ms. Darling’s character with heart-wrenching realities by infusing tragedies of death and dysfunction and how the circumstances heartlessly ripped the fortitude and strength away from a once-cohesive and quite bonded family. There is laughter among the pages, but there are tearful moments as well. Ms. Rutledge easily tapped into a myriad of my emotions simply by how well she crafted her story. Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale is a novel that will remain with me for many days to come because of how deeply it resonates with life as we know it. Well done Ms. Rutledge. I look forward to your next novel because it is impossible for me to think such a gifted writer has only this one story to tell.
Quill Says: It may be the Last Garage Sale, but Ms. Darling will live on in memory long after the last Tiffany has been sold.
(Reviewed by Diane Lunsford for Feathered Quill Book Reviews)