Thursday, September 19, 2013

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

The House Girl, tells the story of two women. Lina Sparrow, in the present, who is working on a reparations case for the descendants of slaves. Josephine, in the past, who is a house girl for Lu Anne Bell, the mistress on a tobacco plantation. Lu Anne is an artist, but there's some speculation and controversy, in the present, that Josephine might have been the real artist. Lina's job of finding a suitable plaintiff leads her to dig into Josephine's story and discover secrets of not only Josephine's life, but her own.

I loved this book. It was well written and extremely interesting. I enjoyed both parts of the story, but I think I enjoyed the one that takes place in the past a little more, mostly for reasons I explain below. The art and the whole the art world were particularly enthralling to me. I don't know a lot about art, but I found it captivating nevertheless.

To present this story, the author jumps back and forth between the past (1852) and the present day (2004). Secrets were uncovered and the details unfolded roughly at the same time in the story showing the symmetry between them. A perfect format for this type of story.

Both of the major women characters were strong, determined and very appealing. I especially loved Josephine's determination to get away.

I really enjoyed the letters Dot wrote to her sister. I've seen letters used many times in books and quite frankly I was a bit tired of it. I really wasn't looking forward to reading them. However, these were so well done, I felt like I was reading a piece of history. They had me totally hooked.

A couple of things about the story bothered me a little. First, when Lina was looking for a descendent of Josephine, she stumbled upon one a little too readily. Something like that could have and perhaps should have taken years. Second, the reparations case "wrapped up" a little too quickly. Perhaps this happens in real life, but it felt rushed to me. Because of these two things, I didn't love the present day story as much as I could have.

Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at William Morrow for this review copy.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2013. ISBN 9780062207395(Advance Reader's Edition), 368p.

1 comment:

  1. For starters, that's a beautiful book cover. That would attract me right off. The story description probably would have made me put it back down, but from your review, it sounds wonderful, so I'll look for it at the library. I love stories where bits of the past are revealed slowly like this.


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