The House Girl
by Tara Conklin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: 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.
From the publisher
Review: I really liked this book. It takes place in two time periods and I really enjoyed reading about the women in both time periods. The story of Josephine was so compelling and as I was reading, I couldn't wait to find out more of her story. Luckily, we find out a lot about Josephine from Lina, the modern day woman who is a lawyer working on a slavery reparations case. This book made me think about why there hasn't been a major slavery reparations case or if there has been one that I'm not familiar with. There were parts of the story that I thought were superfluous, i.e., the story about Lina's mother and the possible romance between Lina and another character. I know the author was trying to give Lina more depth but I didn't think those parts added to story. There were also parts about Lina's father's art and Lina's emotional reactions to them that seemed out of character and there were times I didn't understand why Lina reacted the way she did. I primarily read this book for the story of Josephine and how Lina tracked down her history. Overall, this was a good, fast read.
Rating: 4 stars