For those of you who are fans of Lynda Rutledge’s most recent book, “West with Giraffes”, I strongly recommend that you add her first novel “Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale” to your reading list. These two books are different in their topics and yet they are filled with memorable characters whose stories memorable. Rutledge has a way to make characters come to life on the page. This book has now become a major motion picture in France with the great actress Catherine Deneuve in the title role.
But just because a book is made into a movie does not make the book good, but that is not the case with this book. It’s a unique topic to choose for a first novel because it deals with sundowners syndrome, dementia, and the loss of memory as it comes upon Faith Bass Darling on the last day of the 20th century. During the middle of that evening she wakes up hearing the voice of God telling her that this is her last day on earth, and as such she decides to rid her mansion of all the family antiques that had been collected for years. These are items that are of priceless value and beauty including 43 original Tiffany lamps, a museum piece automaton elephant clock, a rare $10,000 bill, and so much more. Each of these pieces are described with the value and then a short brief history of how it became part of the Bass family. You see the that family founded the town of Bass, Texas and have been the wealthiest and most influential family since the 1870s. There are histories and legends behind all of these items and we discover that as Faith teeters between reality and non-reality on that last day of her life.
During that day we meet, either in person or in her memory, her husband and son both of whom died over 20 years ago, her runaway daughter, a local football hero who has become a deputy sheriff, an episcopalian minister, and all the people who come to buy items from her last garage sale. And it’s not just that they are buying items, they are buying priceless items. Tiffany lamps are being sold for $20. Many of her pieces of furniture are sold for $2 or less. She doesn’t care it’s her last day of life, and she had no idea when the sale began that her daughter would actually return that very day. However, she’s not sure when she encounters her whether the daughter is real or only a memory.
This is a touching book about the effects of dementia on a person, as well as at how it affects others who come into that individuals orbit. It also is a lot about memory, and what happens to those memories once a person either lapses into full blown dementia or dies. Do those memories die? These and other questions are tackled and discussed in a very interesting manner and by the end of the day everything seemed to have gone full circle. Antiques will find new homes, some antiques will remain within Faith’s family but in the end I was taken on a journey that becomes more and more relevant as I enter my late 60s and I realize that most every day I end up reminiscing or thinking about days and events gone by. Hold on to your dreams, hold on to your memories friends because Lynda Rutledge shows us what might happen when one day we no longer have those memories.