The House Girl - Tara Conklin
Author: Tara Conklin
Genre: Historical fiction
Challenges: Historical Fiction
Description: Lynnhurst, Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run away from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse 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: finding the "perfect plaintiff" to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.
Is it through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy rocking 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 - if Lina can locate one - would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit. While following the runaway house 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 to her? (via Goodreads)
Thoughts: Despite some lukewarm reviews that I had seen for this book, I actually quite enjoyed this book. I know some readers didn't like the jumping between the present day (2004) and the historic (1852), but I really liked the two different stories and liked how in a way they sort of mirrored each other and how the letters from Dorothea and Caleb helped to explain the story after Josephine's had sort of ended. It was really a book that once I was entranced by the book I wasn't able to put down. I also liked the methodical nature of Lina's search for Josephine and an descendant also allowed for her find the answers she has been searching for most of her life.
Bottom line: If you enjoy books that deal with the pre-Civil War South and books that go back and forth and even if you enjoy historical fiction, I would recommend this book. Overall, its a pretty good read and would recommend it.
Pages for 2013: 6344