The House Girl: A Novel

By Tara Conklin
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:William Morrow, (2/12/2013)
Language:English



Average Rating:
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5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


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Two remarkable women, separated by more than a century, whose lives unexpectedly intertwine . . .

2004: Lina Sparrow is an ambitious young lawyer working on a historic class-action lawsuit seeking reparations for the descendants of American slaves.

1852: Josephine is a seventeen-year-old house slave who tends to the mistress of a Virginia tobacco farm—an aspiring artist named Lu Anne Bell.

It is through her father, renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers a controversy rocking the art world: art historians now suspect that the revered paintings of Lu Anne Bell, an antebellum artist known for her humanizing portraits of the slaves who worked her Virginia tobacco farm, were actually the work of her house slave, Josephine.

A descendant of Josephine's would be the per-fect face for the lawsuit—if Lina can find one. But nothing is known about Josephine's fate following Lu Anne Bell's death in 1852. In piecing together Josephine's story, Lina embarks on a journey that will lead her to question her own life, including the full story of her mother's mysterious death twenty years before.

Alternating between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, this searing tale of art and history, love and secrets explores what it means to repair a wrong, and asks whether truth can be more important than justice.

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Silver's Reviews's thoughts on "The House Girl: A Novel"
updated on:2/11/2013

From 1852 to 2004....from one artist to another....from a farm in Virginia to the hustle and bustle of New York City.

THE HOUSE GIRL flawlessly switches between these two time periods telling of the life of Josephine, a slave girl, Lina, a New York City attorney, and Lina's father, Oscar, an artist.  The book leads you through the life of Josephine as she struggles with her decision to "run, it leads you through the life of Lina who is researching families who may benefit from wrong doing during the period of slavery in the United States, and it leads you through the life of Oscar trying to make amends through his artwork.   

The most significant question, though, along with finding descendants is that of who really did create the paintings found in Lu Anne Bell's home?  Was it really Lu Anne or was it Josephine?  Corresponding with this painting mystery and the mystery of Josephine's descendants is that of Lina's mother...what really did happen to her when Lina was only four?  

You will get caught up in both stories because of the great detail Ms. Conklin uses and because of the research.  I love "digging" for historical information.  As you switch between the two stories, you will ask yourself to choose which life you were more interested in....Lina's or Josephine's....it may be difficult to choose since both were appealing and drew you in, but for me Josephine's story wins hands down for interest.

It took a few chapters, but you will become so involved, it becomes difficult to stop reading....you want to know what will become of the characters and the answer to the mysteries.

Each character comes alive with the vivid detail Ms. Conklin uses, and she puts their feelings out in the open...you can feel the tension, the pain, the frustration, the longing, and the fleeting happiness they experience.  I really enjoyed this book because of the history and the research and of course the detailed descriptions of the characters.

The historical aspect and the fact-finding kept me up late.  It is very interesting how the farm's kitchen records, crop records, and births and deaths of every person including the slaves was kept. I thoroughly enjoy these types of findings.  I also wonder how these records were not destroyed and who would have thought to preserve them.  Such foresight....something to be grateful for.

Don't miss this book especially if you are a historical fiction buff.  This book pulls you in and will cause you to pause and reflect on the human race and have you wondering about the reasons why we do what we do, have you wondering what the reasons are that lead us to make the choices we make, and have you wondering about the reason we turned out to be the person we are. 5/5

This book was given to me without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

DEFINITELY Unleash it


"The House Girl: A Novel"
By Tara Conklin

Average Rating:
DEFINITELY Unleash it
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


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