Title: The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (20s), Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Some bury their secrets close to home. Others scatter them to the wind and hope they land somewhere far away.
Judith Kratt inherited all the Kratt family had to offer–the pie safe, the copper clock, the murder no one talks about. She knows it’s high time to make an inventory of her household and its valuables, but she finds that cataloging the family belongings–as well as their misfortunes–won’t contain her family’s secrets, not when her wayward sister suddenly returns, determined to expose skeletons the Kratts had hoped to take to their graves.
Interweaving the present with chilling flashbacks from one fateful evening in 1929, Judith pieces together the influence of her family on their small South Carolina cotton town, learning that the devastating effects of dark family secrets can last a lifetime and beyond.
Seamlessly weaving between 1929 and 1989, The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis is a poignant novel set in a small southern town.
Judith Kratt’s inventory of her family’s treasures sparks an introspective journey of the events that led to her fourteen year old brother Quincy’s murder in 1929. Family patriarch Daddy Kratt rules his family and his businesses with an iron first and he ruthlessly makes his fortune through blackmail and hard work. Twenty years younger that Daddy Kratt, Judith’s mother is an ethereal, wispy woman who lives on the periphery of the family. Judith’s youngest sister Rosemarie lives in her own world and runs from trouble instead of facing it head on. Believing the worst, Rosemarie runs away from home right after Quincy’s murder. Once the wealthiest family in Bound, SC, the tragedy sets the stage for their downward spiral.
Judith lives in family home with her childhood friend, Olva. They thrive on routine with their days languidly slipping by. The first ripple in their lives is the sudden reappearance of Rosemarie whose only contact with Judith is through blank postcards sent to Olva. Wondering why her sister has returned after all this time, Judith and Rosemarie clash virtually every time they are together. Judith is also a little hurt that Olva and Rosemarie do not include her in their daily plans.
As if Judith’s life is not in enough upheaval, Rosemarie and Olva invite Marcus and his six year old daughter Amaryllis to stay with them. Marcus is struggling financially to make ends meet and he needs to lie low to escape his racist landlords, Jolly and her son Rick. Since Bound is such a small town, Marcus’ history is closely intertwined with the Kratt’s troubled past. Judith is initially a reluctant and unbending hostess but young Amaryllis begins to soften her hardened heart.
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is a multi-layered novel which does not shy away from difficult subjects such as racism and classism. Judith is stubborn but as she inventories objects in the house, she gains a new understanding of the events that culminated in tragedy. Olva is a lovely woman who is finally ready to reveal the truth about herself and her family. Rosemarie is brash and intractable as she attempts to bend everyone to her will but can her interpretation of the past be trusted? Andrea Bobotis brings her beautifully written debut to an unexpected, but completely gratifying conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this thought-provoking novel.
One Response to Review: The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
I totally and utterly ADORED this book. The writing was astounding, the story was engrossing and the characters felt so real and alive. Can’t ask for more than that. I gave it 5/5 stars, and it is my favorite book of 2019 so far!