Friday, March 15, 2013

House Girl

For a while I shied away from Holocaust books only to have a love of them come out of nowhere these past few years.  Now if you would ask me if I want to read a Civil War book, I would probably decline the offer.  However, there are always exceptions to this, and House Girl by Tara Conklin is a fabulous reason to make an exception.

House Girl takes place in two different time periods.  In the present day Carolina "Lina" Sparrow works at making partner at her law firm, devoting her time to a reparations case for the ancestors of slaves.

Josephine Bell was a housegirl back in the 1840s and 1850s at a southern plantation. Her mistress died in 1852 and there is no information about Josephine after that date.  However, there is a controversy whether the artwork attributed to her mistress was actually done by Josephine.

As the daughter of famous artist Oliver Sparrow, Lina is drawn into Josephine's story and begins to look for Josephine's descendants to use as plaintiffs in the legal case she is working on.

Both Lina and Josephine tell their stories in alternating chapters and more of the mystery is fleshed out by letters from the undertaker's daughter.  Conkin's House Girl has a bit of suspense as well as history woven together which made for a very late night reading session by me.  The ending may have been a bit too neat and tidy, but the love I have for this book overshadows that. I have already recommended it to a few friends and will continue to tell others this is one worth spending their time on.

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