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Indie Next ListFebruary 2013
Lina, a young, ambitious New York attorney in 2004, never knew her mother. Josephine, a young house slave in 1852, never knew her child. More than a century apart, their lives connect in unexpected ways. Corporate law offices, art museums, antebellum homes, and the Underground Railroad provide the setting for a story filled with secrets, betrayals, and love. Does the ‘House Girl’ title apply to both women? The paths of these strong women will have the reader marveling at the layers Conklin has created to tell their intertwined stories. -- Beverly Bauer, Redbery Books, Cable, WI
Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to 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: she must find the perfect plaintiff to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.
It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy roiling the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephines would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuitif Lina can find one. While following the runaway girls 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 Linas mother die? And why will he never speak about her?
Moving between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, this searing, suspenseful and heartbreaking tale of art and history, love and secrets, explores what it means to repair a wrong and asks whether truth is sometimes more important than justice.
Praise for The House Girl…
“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.”