Thomas “Zero” Clark is the first character you will meet in the Prologue to Catfish Alley (2011) by Lynne Bryant. Please keep his adventure in mind as details will emerge later in this novel. In Chapter 1 you will meet elderly Grace Clark who is fussing about an upcoming meeting. Grace cannot just figure out why that Reeves woman wants to talk with her.
That woman is Roxanne Reeves who has her own secrets that she would like to keep to herself. Roxanne, who is in her mid-40s, considers herself an outsider in Clarksville, Mississippi even though she has lived there for 20 years. In order to fit in, Roxanne has joined different groups, organizations over the years. She is currently the director of the Pilgrimage Committee; the membership is made up of ladies of importance in the small town.
A new member, Louisa Humboldt, has just moved to the area from Connecticut. She oozes of money. She and her husband have just bought one of the oldest and most well-known homes in the community. Louisa makes a suggestion that someone on the committee should research the important African American historical landmarks in the area. Roxanne reluctantly ended up with the task since no one else volunteered.
Roxanne does home restorations but knows little about the area she needs to research. It was suggested she contact Grace Clark who is Black, 91 years old, a retired school teacher, and well respected in the community. Grace agrees to the first interview, that is only after she interviews Roxanne. Once Grace agrees, she insists that Roxanne writes all the information down. Roxanne is not prepared to do that, but has little choice.
Catfish Alley is very important to the Black community even though it appears rundown. To Roxanne’s eyes there does not appear anything that stands out as a travel destination.
With both Roxanne and Grace reluctant to do the interviews, the trips around town were awkward at first. Grace introduces Roxanne to Adele, Grace’s best friend, who was the first Black nurse in town. Slowly the ladies start to relax in each other’s company. The stories begin to flow.
Grace begins to involve other friends of hers from days gone by, especially back in the 1930s when racists ruled “the town”. Roxanne gains a new outlook and along the way learns about herself and new friendships are made.
Catfish Alley is told in flashbacks. You may be a bit surprised with how the book ends. This novel is a very entertaining read, but much, much more is found between the pages besides entertainment.
This is one great tale with very believable characters. For me it evoked many different feelings…I smiled, I cried, I was touched, and I was angered by some of the ugly scenes. It is a book I will keep on my own shelves to reread again, and maybe again.
NB: As usual, be sure to read the author’s notes. You will appreciate that Lynne Bryant knows of what she writes.
Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale (2012) a debut novel by Lynda Rutledge will also have your emotions all over the charts. 70-year-old Faith Bass Darling is the wealthiest woman in Bass, Texas. She ha been a recluse for 20 years. Faith wakes up one morning and decides to sell everything in her mansion, the oldest and largest in town.
Her decision to sell her priceless antiques was due to a revelation from God. At midnight Faith was certain she had heard her name called. Not once, not twice, but three times. It was on that third time that she began wandering her home, room by room, until dawn.
In the morning she walked outside, hung a “Garage Sale” sign on her lawn jockey and was immediately in business.
The first heirloom Faith hauls out to the sale is the priceless Louis XV elephant clock. She found moving the items was more difficult than she could handle alone. She asked some young neighborhood teens to help with the promise to pay them if they would lend a hand.
The boys did help and she paid them…with $20 gold pieces! Being a bit confused, the boys asked her if she any real money. The boys explained those coins would not fit in a pop machine. She told them they would thank her in about 20 years.
Faith’s estranged daughter, Claudia, who ran away 20 years ago as a teen, pulls up in front of the house. There she sees Tiffany lamps being sold and carted away for next to nothing!
Bobby Ann, local antiques dealer, had called her old friend Claudia to alert her what was happening at her mother’s house. Bobby Ann knows the true worth of what is in the yard for sale.
Just to let you know, only three characters have been mentioned thus far. Since I did not want to give anything away you will just have to read Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale for yourself to learn why an entire cast of characters live within the pages of this fast, touching, yet light hearted read.
Each of these characters have come in and out of Faith’s life at one time or another. Each will come to life within the pages giving the reader insight to what brought about the garage sale in the first place.
All the action in this book takes place in one day. You will probably get hooked on the story and finish it in one day! This title is available is also available in Large Print.