The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt – Andrea Bobotis
To take a journey through a story enraptured by the characters and setting, to enjoy the slowly maturing and revealing threads of secrets, which friends and family have held close, to witness the family dynamics across a spectrum of personalities, and to appreciate the slow transition towards equality between whites and blacks in society and the true appreciation of equal standing – that is the amazing experience awaiting the reader of this wonderful book.
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is a totally absorbing novel with such beautiful writing reminding us of the classics. The book is written from the first person perspective, with Miss Judith Kratt narrating over 2 time periods; when she was a young girl of 15 in 1929, and as an elderly lady of 75 in 1989.
Daddy Kratt is a stern man, ruthless in business and ambitious to the point where he effectively controls the town of Bound in South Carolina. He owns the cotton gins and several plantations, he built the department store that sold everything needed by the community and is a landlord with 500 acres of land. He is also that feared father and husband, as he rules his family with unquestioned authority.
As a young girl, Judith is the eldest of 3 children and works for Daddy Kratt in the Department store keeping inventory and running tours of the 4-floor department store. Judith’s brother Quincy, is the son striving to impress the domineering and powerful father. He skulks around, eavesdropping to uncover secrets or misdemeanours that can be leveraged against anyone, which he furnishes his father with. Rosemarie is two years younger than Judith, still flighty and is excused from working in the store. All three children grow up with Olva, a black girl of the same age, whom their Mama had a special fondness for.
As the older introspective woman, Judith has aged with various biased beliefs and a recognition that the family house and standing, are synonymous with her. She shares her life in the Kratt family mansion with Olva, who has remained with Judith her whole life. Judith decides to undertake an inventory of all the possessions within the house. Many of the items have deep meaning or sentimental value, and each with their own story which is told during the earlier time period and listed in the latter. This is a brilliant way to draw the two eras together and those threads that run across time bring an appealing aspect to the novel. Judith receives a postcard from Rosemarie indicating she’s coming home after 60 years away, and the old memories come flooding back.
“You see, Quincy gathered secrets, but Rosemarie’s impulse was to scatter them to the wind. And my sister believes I killed Qunicy. Well now. It was time to get my inventory underway.”
Secrets permeate every relationship, and different versions of the truth weave a complicated story that illustrates how the ambiguity of perception can underpin false incrimination and the stances people take. Even after 60 years, secrets can be exposed.
This book is an immersive literary delight. The writing is beautifully descriptive with a wonderful array of characters including, family, friends, servants, employees, business partners and town folk, all adding amazing dimensions to the characterisations and interactions. The secrets and consequences are worth waiting for, even though you may guess them – that’s not the point – the journey is the reward.
This is another Buddy Read with Beata and she used some wonderful terms describing Judith that I wish I’d thought of. You’ll have to read her review to find out. I would highly recommend this book and I’d like to thank Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.