Tag Archives: Slavery

Review: Homegoing

Homegoing

Homegoing
By Yaa Gyasi
Vintage, Paperback, 9781101971062, May 2017, 320pp.

The Short of It:

A story about two women, living very different lives and how their lives form the generations to come.

The Rest of It:

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. ~ Indiebound

My book club chose this book for June and it was an excellent book to discuss but the book as a whole didn’t work for me. The story is told by different characters, each chapter a story in and of itself. Some of these stories I was very into and others, not so much. The ones that really moved me were often too short and then in no time a new character was being introduced.

What the author did well was give the reader an accurate picture of what it was like for slaves during that time. The details of the horrific living conditions are very hard to read. Although I would have liked to focus on fewer characters, I do think the handling of the characters was does well given the large period of time covered in the novel (eight generations).

What thoroughly added to the discussion was the additional facts provided by our discussion host. Lots of information about the Gold Coast and an explanation of boundaries. If I had read this book on my own I don’t think I would have liked it very much but as a discussion book I think it worked very well.

Have you read it?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The House Girl

The House Girl

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:

From Goodreads:

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?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.