The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt: A Novel

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt: A Novel

by Andrea Bobotis


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"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." —Kevin Wilson, author The Family Fang, Perfect Little World,andBaby, You're Gonna Be Mine

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492678861
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 07/09/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 29,905
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Andrea Bobotis was born and raised in South Carolina and received her PhD in English Literature from the University of Virginia. Her essays have appeared in journals and book collections such as Victorian Studies and the Irish University Review. Her novel was the runner-up for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship in 2014. Andrea now lives in Denver, CO, where she teaches with the Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

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The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Genre: Southern Literary Fiction Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark Pub. Date: July 9, 2019 This novel has such a crisp Southern voice that I was surprised that the book is a debut novel. Then I learned that the author, Andrea Bobotis, is no stranger to good writing. She holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Virginia. Her fiction has received awards from the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, plus her essays can be found in journals. The author is talented. This story is based in a fictional town in South Carolina (Bobotis is a native of South Carolina) placed in 1989 and 1929. The author interweaves the timelines with flashbacks. Miss Judith Kratt, is a white woman now aged into her late seventies. She is the eldest daughter in the family. The Kratts were once the most powerful family in a cotton town that they owned. Now their once stately home, as well as the town, is falling apart. She lives in her family home with her black companion, Olva. Judith views her relationship with Olva as, part family member, part friend, and part house servant. Judith is writing her last list which is made up of family heirlooms. The writing can be Southern slow but is never boring. In the present, through Judith’s memories, we learn of her family’s dark secrets. Some you will be able to guess. Others you will not. Often I found similarities in “The Last List” to the novel, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.” Both books are narrated by the protagonist in time period changes. They both explore the themes of the segregated south, family, aging, male brutality towards females, and the dehumanizing effects of racism. Still, both tales give the reader demonstrations of female strength while also managing to squeeze in some humor. The character, Judith Kratt is a quirky one. It is fun to read how Olva, who is one year older than Judith, deals with her companion’s eccentric ways. “The Last List” is obviously racially charged. It is sad to realize that these same racial struggles are still around in the year 2019. It can make one feel weary. Still, the author does a good job of capturing the aspects of what can be called the genteel South and its sweet southern style. But make no mistake, the book is truly about the ugly truth hidden behind those grand Sothern mansions. The “list” is actually challenging the reader to examine the imprints of our memories. And to acknowledge the unfair power that comes from the objects (or once slaves) that we own. Begging the question: Will we ever truly live in a world of equality? The story may read slowly, however it is a page-turner.
Gailfl 6 days ago
Miss Judith Kratt is 75 years old and living in the grand house that her Daddy built in the early 1900’s in Bound, South Carolina. Daddy Kratt owned the cotton gins, several plantations, the department store where all the locals shopped, and 500 acres of land around town. Daddy Kratt was described as one of the captains of the cotton industry. And he ruled the family just as he ruled the town, all powerful and ruthless. Flashbacks take us to 1929. Miss Judith is 15, the oldest of the three children. She works in the Kratt Mercantile keeping inventory for her father. Her brother Quincy, 14, is the town snoop, Daddy Kratt’s ears. His information helps Daddy Kratt leverage control over the people of Bound. Sister Rosemarie is the youngest, 13, flighty, and “never bound by any sense of responsibility to our family.” Rosemarie had “always lived a nymph’s life, far from the concerns of the everyday world, climbing trees while the rest of us toiled on the ground.” Living with the family is Olva, a young negro woman one year older than Miss Judith. The maids regard Olva with disdain since she is so close to the family. Then one summer night there is a shooting: Quincy is dead, and things change for the Kratts. Some leave Bound, some leave only spiritually. Judith and Daddy Kratt are left to bury the dead and to soldier on. We see that Judith, the unreliable narrator of this tale, takes over Quincy’s role as snoop—she has learned well from her father. Back to 1989, the 76-year-old Olva is still living in the house with Miss Judith, filling the role of family member, friend, and housemaid. The town, the house and the furnishings have all diminished. Miss Judith decides that she needs to take an inventory of the valuables in the house, and so begins her last list. As she inventories the Windsor chair, the wooden spinning wheel, the mahogany secretary, she also recalls the events that lead to the undoing of Bound and the Kratts. As her list grows, so does our understanding of the family dynamics. Secrets that Miss Judith had planned to take to her grave come bubbling up. Andrea Bobotis has written a beautiful debut novel, full of rich language, slow reveals and a classic Southern noir story. Her character development is one of the most satisfying aspects of this book. Each is tenderly crafted with all their foibles and strengths. Racial themes are carried throughout the book, as they were and still are throughout the South. And each of the characters are bound to the town, which gives a particular poignancy to the town’s name. My thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Dedee1 6 days ago
Totally believable story of the nouveau rich,old money, family secrets and lies and the rise and fall of social status over several generations. Reeks of the possibility of being great Southern literature that would deserve a dissection in an English class. I particularly found it interesting because of the geographic area used as the setting . I am quite familiar with that portion of SC and understand the culture of the area and of the state in the years this book encompasses. No spoilers here. Jacket cover and others have given adequate descriptions of specific content. Read and enjoy. I enjoyed the book. It is thought provoking. Thanks to the author and publishers for the ARC. The opinions expressed are my own.
Anonymous 6 days ago
Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the ARC. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author's writing style drew me in quickly. From the first page, I felt as though I were on Miss Kratt's porch, surveying "my" town. I found the premise ingenious: by having Judith writing an inventory of possessions, she shares her family's history and their secrets. I was amazed by how smoothly the stories moved from past to present. The characters weren't always likeable....because they're so realistic. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.
GGGeiss 6 days ago
Andrea Bobotis.....a beautiful and prodigiously written novel. Captivating read with words that sing page after page. The story unfolds as the peel of an onion.....layer after layer, the closer one gets to the center, the more pungent. The characters are developed with perspicuity. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
TUDORQUEEN 7 days ago
This work of historical fiction takes place in South Carolina during a sixty-year period (encompassing the 1920s through 1980s). Without warning, the time period weaves back and forth as the story unfolds. At the book's beginning, Judith and Olva are relaxing in their sunroom, enjoying the warmth. There is a sense of old age, and a kind of quiet, loving relationship between these two elderly woman. They share a long history together. Olva is thoughtful, speaks carefully, and is always offering to do things for Judith. It slowly becomes a revelation that Olva is a woman of color. A newspaper report that Judith Kratt's only brother Quincy was murdered at the age of 14 in 1929 is the first piece of information thrust at the reader. The book will take you on a journey from the past to the present to slowly unravel the mystery of who killed Quincy, and also to uncover family secrets. But as the book begins, Judith has decided that she wants to make an accounting of various valuables owned by the Kratt family. As each chapter ends, items are diligently listed that Judith has spoken about during those pages. When you get to the final chapter, the list will be long and complete. Judith's family home is very important to her, and these family heirlooms are treasures with stories to tell. Daddy Kratt ran a successful cotton gin business and eventually opened the Kratt Mercantile Company, a glittering, imposing multi-floored store that even had elevators. Judith was trusted to take inventory and on opening day she took endless store visitors on tours of the facility. However, Daddy Kratt was a ruthless businessman and an abusive, cold-hearted father. Son Quincy, all of 14 years old, would gather information on various people in the (fictional) town of Bound, South Carolina to use against them in order to curry favor with his father. These would serve to improve the Kratt family's business interests by blackmailing enemies. In 1989 we know that the store did not survive, so that is another story to tell. The book centers heavily on issues of race relations, the depressed state of a once thriving town, a disfunctional family, and closely held family secrets. The character of the murdered boy Quincy was so despicable that I was devoid of any sympathy, or even in much interest as to who killed him. Ditto for the father Daddy Kratt. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The core relationship that appealed to me most was that of Judith and Olva, and the saving grace of these characters carried my middling interest to the book's conclusion. Thank you to the publisher SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
Anonymous 9 days ago
This book is about family secrets, racism and power in a very small town in the south. If you like slowly, drawn out, drama then this is probably a good fit for you. If I had just picked this up, I don't think I would've kept reading it, but since I was supposed to do a review, I kept reading on. Unfortunately it was very slow for me. It really didn't get interesting or hard to put down until about page 165. The rest of the book kept my attention very well, but before that, all the family dysfunction wasn't attractive to me.
clarkphd 9 days ago
15-year-old Judith Kratt is in charge of inventory at her father's store. 60 years later, at 75, Judith begins writing an inventory of her home - and of what happened the night her brother was killed. I expected this to be another "older adult does some soul-searching" a la This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! or A Man Called Ove, but it's so much more than that. There are so many themes in this book - family secrets, racism, regret, greed, sibling rivalry, etc. Despite the largely heavy subject matter, it managed to be light-hearted in the right places. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to more from this author.
lee2staes 11 days ago
The setting is in Bound, South Carolina during the harsh time period in the 1920’s. This was a disturbing book to read, but an important probe of family secrets, bigotry, and callous feelings and opinions. I love the way the author used the list of items in Judith's inventory to tell a heartrending story that influenced people's lives many years later. The characters are likable, interesting and kind, except for the father who is hateful and mean. Written with clarity and insight, this remarkable story has all the ingredients of great literature. I really enjoyed this book. I would be interested in reading more from this author. I highly recommend it. I was fortunate to receive this novel from Netgalley as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review.
Reader4102 11 days ago
Miss Judith Kratt is the narrator in this book that moves fluidly between events in 1929 and 1989. As the book opens, she is 75-years-old living with a caretaker in the family mansion, a 6,000 square foot building in Bound, South Carolina. She has received a post card, one of many from her sister who left home sixty years earlier after the death of their brother. Most of the postcards arrived blank – no writing, not even who it is from – but this one says she’s coming home. And Judith has no idea why and that bothers her. Judith decides to take an inventory of all the stuff in the mansion. This book moves slowly like everything else in the humidity-laden air in the summer in South Carolina. But it is that slow movement that lends authenticity to the story. The author has produced a well-written story with characters who are both likable and not-so-likable. While the story moves slowly, it does not stagnate nor does it bore the reader to tears. If you like Southern-based novels, you’ll certainly put this one near the top of the your to-be-read list. Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for an eARC.
writertoreader 11 days ago
Told against the backdrop of customary Southern decorum, The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is the sprawling saga of the Kratt family. The central narrator, Judith, is unreliable, not always likable. She cares more about the legacy of her family and the value of her heirlooms than she does about her surroundings. Borne into the prosperous Kratt family, Judith grew up under the rigid thumb of the oppressive and injurious Daddy Kratt. Cotton and blackmail kept the Kratts in business for years until a tragic incident cast a permanent shadow over them. Quincy, Judith’s brother, was murdered. Rosemarie, Judith’s sister, has always believed Judith was responsible for Quincy’s death. Because of this, she fled the suffocating small-town of Bound, never to darken Judith’s doorstep again. Since then, Judith hasn’t left her home. She’s been in a shut-in for 65 years with only Olva, a family friend with secrets of her own, to keep her company. The story is told with two alternating narratives, one from when Judith was only 15 and one in present-day Bound where Judith is 75. The segments of the novel set in the past follow the events leading up to Quincy’s death. Andrea Bobotis is a competent writer. The world of Bound is fleshed out through lustrous descriptive passages. You can feel the swelter of Southern heat, feel the blanket of dust coating the untouched miscellaneous objects in the old Kraft house and see the splinters of the sun’s rays filtering through the windows. This story less about the mystery and more about establishing the arcs of its central characters. It also focuses heavily on how the past can inform the present. Because The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is more intrinsically motivated, the ending feels somewhat anticlimactic. Everything de-escalates quickly, and the core conflicts in the book wrap up a little too neat. But that doesn’t make this novel any less of a compelling read. Despite feeling underwhelmed by the final chapters, I felt wholly gratified by the understanding of Judith’s inventory. What makes her family history worth preserving? One has to learn how to hang on, and also when to let go. Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for allowing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Shelley-S-Reviewer 11 days ago
Oh how I love southern fiction, especially when it falls in the historical side. My other favourite genre is mysteries and this wonderful novel had both. I couldn't wait to dive in, and dive in I did. I read the whole thing in one sitting and I wasn't disappointed! The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is a novel about ordinary people, living ordinary lives, filled with ordinary triumphs and tragedies, successes and failures, love and longing – even the setting is ordinary. What makes it exceptional is Andrea Bobotis' extraordinary writing and storytelling. This book is totally engaging and a seamless read. The characters are three dimensional and exceptional only in the way we all are unique and, though flawed, capable of generous and noble deeds. The overriding context – the family, the relationships, and the times stay connected. This novel particularly shines in the area relationships between the characters. Bobotis really gets family – mine, yours, everyones. Though even as I was immersed in the characters and events I was worried she wouldn’t be able to pull it all together and there’d be annoying and disconcerting loose ends. But the ending is not only satisfying, like all good endings, it seems inevitable. A really finely written book. I was amazed at how authentic Bobotis voice was in so many characters and in the various situations she took us to. All were plausible and interesting. Highly recommend.
Anonymous 11 days ago
The setting: small-town Bound, South Carolina, 1929 and 1989. Judith Kratt's family-- wealthy and influential back then [until...]. Judith, now in her 70s, decides to take an inventory of the family/house belongings. I wondered why list in in the title as the book refers to it as Judith's inventory--but I don't think the title The Last Inventory of Miss Judith Kratt would have worked as well. The past is dark and holds many secrets. The inventory slowly reveals both. Judith [white] has been living in the same house [and not leaving it] for 60 years with Olva [black], her companion. They are the two main characters though others [in particular her parents and brother Quincy] but also others including Dee and Charlie [past], and Marcus and his daughter Amaryllis [present], are important to the story. Daddy Kratt, Judith's father, is vividly portrayed; he is despicable. Her mother, more pitiable, but...Her sister, Rosemarie, left suddenly 5o years ago and just as suddently reappears. Why? Read on. The inventory grows as items are listed and their history revealed in the preceding chapter. There is sibling rivalry, family dysfunction, and racism. Past and present. A well-written tome, I found this book a combination of heartwarming, poignant, and disturbing. Loved some of the descriptions both for their images and humor: "words dropped from his economical mouth" "...boorish man whose two-storied face had extra square footage on his forehead..." "Children can be cruel, and I dont' know why that isn't a more frequent topic of conversation." "A genealogical rung down, Jolly's spiteful buoyancy had degraded into a blunter kind of malice in her offspring." "Dee herself resembled a sturdy tuber resilient and substantial and guranteed to be around a long while if stored properly." "The receptionist, chewing gum as if it were her job." And so many more. Not necessarily a fast read, but I enjoyed it and was compelled to persevere and see how the story would unfold. Recommend.
CRSK 11 days ago
”My father might have been frugal with his words, but he spared no expense for this grand house. Built from sand-yellow brick, it was like the sun itself, or so Daddy Kratt made it feel, with the whole of Bound orbiting around it.” Judith is in her mid-seventies as this begins, this story goes back and forth through time, alternating between the present year – 1989, and the past – 1929, in the small town of Bound, South Carolina, where her father once reigned, living in the once grand home that has seen better days. In her earlier years, Judith worked in her father’s store, keeping the records of their inventory, and she begins to do the same with items in the family home, which has been home to only Judith and Olva, a woman who serves as Judith’s companion, and friend, who also helps to take care of her. Judith’s brother, Quincy, died sixty years ago, and her sister, Rosemarie ran off after his death. And then Judith receives mail letting her know that Rosemarie is coming to visit, and Judith begins her “list,” an inventory of the items in the home which are family heirlooms, and the secrets attached to each slowly come to the surface. Family secrets, but also the secrets kept by the town, as well. Some secrets she might prefer remain buried, and some begin to haunt her – and she can’t help but be disturbed by the return of her sister, and the timing of her leaving to begin with. What does her sister want after all these years? She continues on with cataloguing all of the items. In part because she feels she will be remembered for these items, ”the mahogany secretary in the hallway, the peach R.S. Prussia vase on the mantel, my grandmother’s pie safe in the kitchen…” ”She exhaled. ‘Memory and history are bound up with one another. Where does one end and the other begin?’” ”’It has always seemed to me that the more we touch something, the more we draw it up into ourselves, so that when that thing goes away, it is still within reach, its traces lingering on our fingertips.’” Memories, families, racial division and love are the primary themes in this story, which is a very slow moving story, and it took me too long to really feel invested in this story, chasing different memories over time – but I have to say that the ending wrapped everything up so that most of my initial hopes weren’t completely dashed – just a bit diminished. The writing is occasionally lovely, and the full story behind all of the hidden whispers from years past eventually comes to light, which provided an almost perfect ending for this story. Many thanks for the ARC provided by Sourcebooks Landmark
trutexan 11 days ago
I love a good Southern family saga and this debut novel from Andrea Bobotis did not disappoint. Moving back and forth in time from 1929 to 1989, Judith Kratt sits on her front porch and reflects on her life. As she does so, she decides to make a list of all the family possessions. Each item stirs up memories and Judith brings all the family secrets to the surface as she completes her list. Daddy Kratt, an overbearing and greedy man, rules the household and the town by instilling fear in others. He has gathered a sort of small-town “mafia” and uses his son Quincy to spy on people. It is not surprising that the defining moments of Judith’s past center around him. In 1929, things came to a boiling point and life for the Kratt family changed in a profound way. Judith slowly reveals the events of that time as she lists the family possessions and tells the story behind how some of the items came to be in the family and the meaning behind them. This is a great story to read at the start of summer, when sitting on the front porch is so pleasant and it’s easy to feel that you’re sitting right on the porch with Judith as she tells the Kratt family history. Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for allowing me to read an advance copy and offer my honest review. I look forward to reading more from Andrea Bobotis.