Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

Publisher: William Morrow 
Pages: 336 
Format: ARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell. New York City, 2004. Lina Sparrow, an ambitious first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a difficult, highly sensitive assignment that could make her career: she must find the “perfect plaintiff” to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.

It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy roiling the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephine’s would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit—if Lina can find one. While following the runaway girl’s faint trail through old letters and plantation records, Lina finds herself questioning her own family history and the secrets that her father has never revealed: How did Lina’s mother die? And why will he never speak about her?


Kritters Thoughts:  Two parallel stories run through this book and are interconnected in many ways, some obvious and some a little more symbolic - Josephine Bell is a slave living in the home on Bell Creek Farm while Lina Sparrow is living in her childhood home with her artist father and working her way up the ladder as a corporate lawyer.  Lina's firm has taken on a case that could set precedent if given a landmark decision to acknowledge the value slaves added to corporations and to compensate them for their lack of income while enslaved to the ancestors of these corporate moguls.  Josephine Bell and her possible heirs could be Lina's ticket for winning this controversial case, if she can find all the details of the past.

Although not a history buff, I loved how Josephine's story greatly impacted Lina's plot line and even though it was harder to read Josephine's parts, Lina's current story kept the pages turning and turning.  I haven't read that many stories that take you inside a southern plantation and into the lives of the slaves that worked there, so this was definitely a departure for my norm and I loved reading the history that is literally right outside my front door.  I appreciated Lina's story arc and the discoveries she makes about her own past and childhood.  

I would definitely only pass this book onto historical fiction fans, Josephine's story is absolutely accurate including language to her situation and at times that may be hard to read for those who aren't used to her way of talking.   

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from TLC Book Tours.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.


The tour schedule

Tuesday, February 12th: The Blog of Lit Wits
Wednesday, February 13th: Oh! Paper Pages
Thursday, February 14th: Unabridged Chick
Friday, February 15th: Drey’s Library
Monday, February 18th: Mrs. Q: Book Addict
Tuesday, February 19th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, February 20th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, February 21st: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Monday, February 25th: From L.A. to LA
Tuesday, February 26th: A Patchwork of Books
Wednesday, February 27th: M. Denise C.
Wednesday, February 27th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Thursday, February 28th: Always With a Book


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