The House Girl
By Tara Conklin
William Morrow & Company, Paperback, 9780062207517, November 2013, 372pp.
The Short of It:
A promising premise that fell flat for me pretty early on.
The Rest of It:
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.
This was a book club pick. As a whole, it was well-liked and we had a really good discussion but it just didn’t work for me. I preferred Josephine’s story which took place in 1852 to Lina’s present day story. Lina’s voice didn’t ring true. It seemed a tad forced and too perfect. The story is told by Lina and Josephine through alternating chapters so half of the time I was interested and the other half, not so much.
I did enjoy how the story revolved around art and found that story thread to be very interesting but it wasn’t enough to make me love this one. I think as a debut novel, this book was pretty well-received so my feelings about it are most definitely in the minority.
Have you read it?
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11 thoughts on “Review: The House Girl”
I tried to read this book. I just did not care for it. You are the only person I know who feels the same way. It’s not a bad book, just did not work for me either.
This book is on my kindle. Bought it for book club, but didn’t read it since I couldn’t make the meeting. Guess I won’t be in a hurry…
Since I did read it, I’m glad it was for a book club discussion because it really was a great discussion book but I’m not sure I would have been happy reading it on my own.
I haven’t read it and probably won’t. It doesn’t sound like my kind of book.
I can’t see you reading this one either.
This was a mixed bag for me as well I think. I really liked the story in the past.
Yep. I had trouble buying the story of the present but Josephine’s story really drew me in.
Oh no! Fell flat. That stinks. Been interested in reading this one. Thanks for the review! 😊
The premise does sound interesting but I think I do recall this one getting mixed reviews from other readers too. It’s too bad b/c I usually like these history-digging type stories.
There was only one other reader in our group who found the story a little too convenient. It just didn’t wow me but I should add that it’s not a time period I enjoy reading about.
The dual story lines in different time periods are always so mixed for me. I’ve looked at this one several times but I think you’ve convinced me to give it up.