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Reviews of The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

A Novel

by Andrea Bobotis

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis X
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2019, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2019, 320 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

Some bury their secrets close to home. Others scatter them to the wind and hope they land somewhere far away.

Judith inherited all the Kratt family had to offer—the pie safe, the copper clock, the murder that no one talked about. She's presided over the house quite well, thank you very much, admittedly with some help from her companion, Olva.

But her wayward younger sister suddenly returns home after decades, sparking an inventory of all that belongs to them. Set in the hard-luck cotton town of Bound, South Carolina—which the Kratts used to rule but which now struggles to contain its worst instincts—the new household overflows with memories.

Interweaving the present with chilling flashbacks from one fateful evening in 1929, Judith pieces together a list of what matters. Untangling the legacy of the family misfortunes will require help from every one of them, no matter how tight their bond, how long they've called Bound home, or what they own.

Murder Stuns Distinguished Family
Quincy Kratt, age 14, sustained a fatal gunshot wound to his person in the early hours of Friday, December 20. Young Mr. Kratt was a scion of the cotton industry in Bound, South Carolina. His father, the influential businessman Brayburn Kratt, is one of our local captains of that industry. The principal suspect in the shooting is a negro called Charlie Watson, who is employed by the Kratt Mercantile Company and whose whereabouts are as yet unknown.

York Herald, Saturday, December 21, 1929

one

May 1989
Whenever I hear a train's horn in the distance, that bruised sound, I think of Quincy. He spent half his days down at the depot, true enough, but it's the nature of the sound that reminds me of him, how it's at once familiar and remote. How upon hearing it, I feel obliged to lift my gaze and weigh the horizon, but how it leaves me with less than I had before, eyes reaching toward something I'll never see. After all, where that train's headed, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
Topics for Discussion
  1. How would you describe Judith? What are her virtues? What are her flaws?
  2. Why does Rosemarie's return compel Judith to begin writing her inventory? In what other ways does Rosemarie disrupt Judith's life?
  3. How would you characterize Judith and Olva's relationship? Is it one of equals? How does their relationship change throughout the novel?
  4. In the first chapter, Judith compares the concept of memory to a letter opener made of cut glass: "held to the window, it produced a different color for each of us." How do Judith's memories shape the way she tells her family's story?
  5. Olva has her own take on memory. She says to Judith, "Memory and history are bound up with one another. Where does one end and the ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This is classic Southern fiction at its best! Quirky characters, interesting plotline, and great writing... A list of possessions becomes a list of memories and secrets kept for 60 years...continued

Full Review (690 words)

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Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness, Galley Love of the Week (GLOW)
"Told in Judith's delicately snarky voice, the atmospheric narrative will keep you in both tears and stitches.

Publishers Weekly
[A] thoughtful and quintessentially Southern debut... The well-told tale unfolds like a magnolia, slowly revealing a languid beauty. Mystery fans will also be satisfied.

Author Blurb Cynthia Swanson, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller and The Glass Forest
The droll voice of Andrea Bobotis's heroine, Judith Kratt, might charm you but don't be fooled into thinking this is simply one woman's trip down memory lane. The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is a multilayered story about family, race, loss, and loyalty, featuring a complex cast of characters led by a woman who learns it's never too late for growth and change.

Author Blurb Emily Carpenter, author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
Capturing the unique, singular voice of a once-genteel South that hid its deadly secrets and brutal crimes behind facades of grand houses, Andrea Bobotis gently leads you down a garden path of one family's shameful story only to leave you gasping at its devastating, inevitable destination. If William Faulkner were still alive, I'm pretty sure he'd wish he had written this book.

Author Blurb Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang, Perfect Little World, and Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine
Andrea Bobotis has written an amazing novel, one which interrogates, with such controlled and beautiful writing, what it means to be Southern. Utilizing a unique form and a carefully crafted mystery, Bobotis is a writer capable of deep truths, and this novel announces her as a major voice.

Author Blurb Leah Weiss, bestselling author of If the Creek Don't Rise
Andrea Bobotis is a new, original voice as Southern as they come! In The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, she unravels a complicated web of dirty Southern secrets. Using masterful writing and a perfectly calculated reveal of damaged history, she ends up weaving a tapestry that is so much more.

Author Blurb Tiffany Quay Tyson, author of Three Rivers and The Past is Never
As the keeper of the family treasures and the family secrets, Miss Judith Kratt is a Southern eccentric in the tradition of Faulkner's Miss Emily. But Miss Judith does not wallow in the past or embrace the dead. Instead, she works to protect the living. The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is a universal and timely story that exposes the dangers of nostalgia and the value of assessing both things and people in a clear-eyed, honest way. It's a thoroughly captivating story and it's beautifully told.

Reader Reviews

Heidi Huber

Good read
When I started the book, I did not realize it was set in the area that I live. Very good read.
Cloggie Downunder

An outstanding debut novel.
“Fair to middlin’. The phrase called up a memory for me, too. Of Grandfather DeLour, Mama’s father. ‘You are only fair to middlin’,’ he had once told me solemnly as I played with my dolls on the front porch steps. ‘But your sister, she’s the finest ...   Read More
Diane T. (Slingerlands, NY)

Lift a glass of Southern Comfort!
In the tradition of William Faulkner, Andrea Bobotis has succeeded in her debut novel, "The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt", to tell the secrets of a once prominent Southern family in a clear and concise"Southern"voice that is lilting yet packs a ...   Read More
Patricia W. (Homewood, AL)

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt
After receiving a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is Southern at its very best. The last list is an inventory of items within the family home in a small southern town. Each one has a definite memory ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Books about the History of Race in America

In Andrea Bobotis' The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, an affluent white woman nearing the end of her life in the 1980s takes stock of her family estate in Bound, South Carolina, while recounting the years she spent there as a child during the 1930s. The novel offers a riveting tale of family secrets, revenge, and, especially, racial oppression in the Jim Crow South. As the story unfolds, the narrator muses about how race relations in America have changed since the time of her youth. In this, the novel joins a growing body of work that thoughtfully probes the nation's sinister history of racism.

In recent years racial tension has reached frightening levels in the USA. In a February 2019 poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 58% of ...

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