Quick Book Review: The House Girl by Tara Conklin
February 28, 2013 10 Comments
This book combines a modern fiction story with a historical one. Lina Sparrow is a lawyer who is asked to find someone who descends from a slave to take on an class-action lawsuit in which the descendants of slaves would be repaid for all the labor and hardship their ancestors had to suffer.
With her father an artist, Lina comes across the paintings of a female slave owner. There is some suggestion that the paintings were actually made by her slave maid, Josephine. As this would make for a great story in the media as well as in the court case, Lina goes about trying to find out whether the paintings really were made by Josephine and whether she can find a descendant.
Intermixed with Lina’s research are chapters about Josephine. Her story takes place all in one day, a day in which she has decided to finally run away from her “owners”, a farmer and his terminally ill wife. She thinks back on a previous occasion that she tried to run away. As the day goes on, she prepares to leave but circumstances don’t make it easy for her to do so.
This book started really very good and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was well written and the historical and modern parts contrasted beautifully. The story about Josephine was a sad one, but also one of languid days, fresh air and fields all around. The modern city life is all about making money and standing out from amongst your colleagues.
I deducted half a star in my rating (giving 4.5 rather than 5) because of some development near the end of the story. The idea of a class-action law suit in which all descendants of slaves would be compensated was rather unlikely and practically impossible, too, so I was a little disappointed in some places. But overall, this was a very good read.
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Number of pages: 384
First published: 2013
I got this: from the publishers, William Morrow, for review (ARC)
Genre: historical fiction, contemporary fiction