Under the looming shadow of Y2K, the very proper Faith Bass Darling hauls all of her priceless family possessions onto her front lawn for a very improper yard sale in Rutledge’s debut novel.
Surprised and delighted to catch sight of the reclusive Faith, neighbors and strangers descend upon the Darlings’ lawn to snap up Tiffany lamps and Spode china for quarters. Alarmed less by Faith’s evident Alzheimer’s than by the shocking loss of capital, Bobbie Ann Blankenship rushes over to save what she can. Now sole proprietor of the Yesteryear Antique Shop, Bobbie plans to keep Faith’s possessions safe from unscrupulous buyers until Faith consents to a dignified estate sale, or until Faith’s daughter, Claudia, comes home. But first, Bobbie might just take that mysterious elephant clock—the one item Faith does not want to sell. Claudia hasn’t been home in 20 years, not since she hid a certain family ring, a ring passed down from her great-great-grandmother Belle, a ring replete with a three-carat diamond surrounded by seed pearls, a ring inscribed Love Eternal, a ring hidden in a desk on the Darlings’ lawn. A failed Buddhist, Claudia doesn’t want the ring for itself but for the chance it offers to invest in her dream of becoming part-owner of an upscale fitness club. Once home, Claudia must confront her mother’s illness, as well as the return of her first love, Deputy John Jasper Johnson. With the help of John Jasper, Bobbie, Father George and Dr. Peabody, Claudia begins to understand her mother, her mother’s illness and their relationship. Faith herself confronts the memories of her past as she moves from room to room, object to object. Those memories contain some dark family secrets having to do with the deaths of her husband, Claude Angus Darling, and her son, Mike.
This potentially poignant story of misplaced emotional attachments and misremembered pasts falters under its wispy tone.