The House Girl

The House Girl

4.3 249
by Tara Conklin
     
 

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The House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre–Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for

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Overview

The House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre–Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.

Featuring two remarkable, unforgettable heroines, Tara Conklin's The House Girl is riveting and powerful, literary fiction at its very best.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Lina Sparrow, the daughter of two moderately successful artists, is a New York attorney. In 2004, she is assigned the career-making job of discovering a living person with American-slave ancestry for a class-action suit seeking reparations for abuse and bondage. Josephine Bell, a 17-year-old house slave in antebellum Virginia in 1852, tends her mistress Lu Anne Bell, a mediocre artist, and dreams of freedom. Conklin switches between the two women's viewpoints as she slowly reveals the identity of the painter responsible for poignant works representing the people, free and enslaved, of Bell Creek Plantation. VERDICT Simultaneously telling the stories of two women separated in time by 150 years, the author slowly builds a suspenseful and dramatic revelation of their deep connection across the decades. Conklin's debut is a seamless juxtaposition of past and present, of the lives of two women, and of the redemptive nature of art and the search for truth and justice. Guaranteed to keep readers up long past their bedtimes. [See Prepub Alert, 8/9/12.]—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK
Chicago Tribune
“Assured and arresting...You cannot put it down.””
Minneapolis Star Tribune
It’s shelved under historical fiction, but THE HOUSE GIRL reads more like a historical whodunit, and a smart one at that . . . Both Josephine and Lina are intricately drawn characters — fierce, flawed and very real.”
Entertainment Weekly
“[G]rabs you by the bonnet strings and starts running.”
Marie Claire
“This will be the book-club book of 2013.”
Seattle Times
“Conklin ... is a skilled writer ... who knows how to craft a thoughtful page-turner ...We’re glued to the pages.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A sorrowful, engrossing novel in which the pursuit of justice serves as a catalyst to a more personal pursuit for truth . . . Through Josephine and Lina’s journeys, THE HOUSE GIRL is also a meditation on motherhood, feminism, loss, and, ultimately, redemption.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“Conklin’s research blends subtly into the background while successfully rendering a picture of the complex tensions inherent in 1850s society...A historical novel that succeeds in giving voice to the voiceless.”
Shelf Awareness
“Skillfully executed and packed with surprises, this novel of the ways in which art saves our humanity is an engrossing do-not-miss adventure.”
Ebony
“Riveting.”
BookPage
“Luminous . . . The rare novel that seamlessly toggles between centuries and characters and remains consistently gripping throughout . . . Powerful.”
Washington Post
“Infused with ominous atmosphere and evocative detail...a dramatic montage of narrative and personal testimonies that depicts the grotesque routines of the slave trade, the deadly risks of hte Underground Railroad and the impossible choices that slaves and abolitionists faced.”
Booklist
“Conklin persuasively intertwines the stories of two women separated by time and circumstances but united by a quest for justice...Stretching back and forth across time and geography, this riveting tale is bolstered by some powerful universal truths.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Rich and surprising...will make hearts ache yet again for those who suffered through slavery as well as cheer for those—Conklin and Lina—who illuminate their stories.”
Maria Semple
“Tara Conklin’s wise, stirring and assured debut tells the story of two extraordinary women, living a century apart, but joined by their ferocity of spirit. From page one, I fell under the spell of THE HOUSE GIRL’s sensuous prose and was frantically turning pages until its thrilling conclusion.”
Laurie Frankel
“The House Girl is a heartbreaking, heartwarming novel, ambitious, beautifully told, and elegantly crafted. Tara Conklin negotiates great vast swaths of time and tribulation, character and place, with grace, insight, and, simply, love.”
Hillary Jordan
“THE HOUSE GIRL is an enthralling story of identity and social justice told through the eyes of two indomitable women, one a slave and the other a modern-day attorney, determined to define themselves on their own terms.”
Margot Livesey
“There’s so much to admire in THE HOUSE GIRL — two richly imagined heroines, two fully realized worlds, a deeply satisfying plot — but what made me stand up and cheer was the moral complexity of these characters and the situations they face. I’m grateful for this transporting novel.”
Corban Addison
“THE HOUSE GIRL stands as both a literary memorial to the hundreds of thousands of slaves once exploited in the American South and a mellifluous meditation on the mysterious bonds of family, the hopes and sorrows of human existence, and the timeless quest for freedom.”
Amy Greene
“Tara Conklin’s powerful debut novel is a literary page-turner filled with history, lost love, and buried family secrets. Conklin masterfully interweaves the stories of two women across time, all while asking us to contemplate the nature of truth and justice in America.”
Bookreporter.com
“A thoughtful work of fiction about freedom, love, and the continued price for former slaves with modern descendants. Conklin creates a convincing case of an unrecognized injustice with a novel that is both legalistic and artistic...A story of personal and national identity that you won’t want to miss.”
Essence
“Exquisite...Conklin takes us down a curious rabbit hole that drops us before a looking glass of uncomfortable truths about race, power, art, family, law and ethics...One of those books in which there’s not one, two or three, but about ten good parts you’ll want to read and reread.”
Daily News
“Absorbing...[Conklin] buttresses her legal savvy with strong historical research. She also has a fine way with a story.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062207524
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/12/2013
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
12,521
File size:
1 MB

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