Julie M. (Minnetonka, MN)
Art Documents History
This was a wonderful book about the power of creativity and art in a young slave girl. It portrays in an inspiring story how through art a person survives long after they have left this world. It reinforced the importance of art in our world and of preserving our history.
Valerie C. (Chico, CA)
Excellent - well written and enlightening
I've read many books set in the US's slavery era, and this is one of the best. It poses an unique connection between a young slave "house girl" and a driven New York lawyer. I doubt it will disappoint.
Judi S. (Boyes Hot Springs, CA)
The House Girl
"To eat a meal when hunger struck her, to smile without thinking, to wear a dress that fit her well, to place upon the wall a picture she had made, to love a person of her choosing." These are the simple yet unattainable desires of Josephine the "house girl" to Lu Anne Bell, aspiring artist and mistress of a Virginia tobacco farm.
This story had my attention captured from page two to the final sentence.
Readers who enjoyed The Help or Salvage The Bones will find two new heroines to love in The House Girl.
I was originally skeptical about how the story could honestly address the pros/cons of reparations without sounding preachy or dismissive, but Conklin managed to give the issue the respect it deserved, without losing the character focused flavor of the book.
Like all good books (in my opinion) The House Girl gives us characters we care deeply about, and asks us to think about some tough issues.
This wonderful book will stay in your heart and mind long after you have finished the last page.
Donna N. (sherwood, or)
If you like the Civil War era with an interwoven mystery you will like this book. The author does a good job of moving from modern day to 1850's with parallel stories of a slave girl and a young lawyer. The common threads are the art world and situations that require similiar choices to our circumstances in life. The time of the Underground Railroad is a powerful time where each individual had to look at the slavery issue and make some difficult decisions. I didn't feel the modern day issues with Lina's mother was developed as well as it could of been, but the part with Josephine was very well done. It is a book that I think about after reading and want to share it..so that is my best recommendation.
Naomi Benaron (author of Running the Rift)
Spellbound by the narration
The two juxtaposed strands in Tara Konklin's The House Girl immediately pulled me in: Josephine, fiercely proud house girl, born into slavery in Virginia in the 1830's, and Lina Sparrow, ambitious and fiercely independent lawyer, beginning a career with a prestigious New York law firm. The characters were tenderly wrought, their stories compelling and richly complex, bound together not only by what they have - a propelling drive for justice and for recognition—but also by what they lack – the presence of a mother in their lives. I was spellbound as the narrative propelled me forward, the two stories weaving closer and closer together in both inevitable and unexpected ways. Alas, for me, the spell was broken in the last third of the novel when the narrative veered from these two voices into those of more minor characters. I had fallen in love, and I did not want the sharp-edged beam of Conklin's prose to look away.
Kathryn K. (Oceanside, CA)
Loved The House Girl!
The novel, The House Child by Tara Conklin, blends two compelling stories about a house slave and a young attorney in the early stages of her career: one from the nineteenth century, the other from the twenty-first. Lest you think that this makes it a predictable tale – it's not! The story deals with issues of a slave from a different angle, as the author weaves the lives of these two women together.
The plot is fresh and interesting with some twists I didn't see coming. It is well written. The author manages to keep the "voice" of her characters distinctive throughout the novel. There was none of the guessing about whom a passage was about. This frustration seems a more common reality in
fiction today. The author did a good job in the development of the characters and I wanted to know how it worked out -- It was an, okay, how about just a little more!
The book grabbed me before I finished the first chapter and held me captive until I finished the book! I think it would be a great choice for a book discussion group. It has the possibility of expanding one's view of the world today. I really enjoyed The House Child. I'll be watching for Ms Conklin's next tome.
Catherine H. (Nashua, NH)
I really wanted to like this book....
This is a good average book with the parallel stories of Josephine Bell, a slave in 1852 Virginia and Lina Sparrow, an attorney working on a slavery class action case in 2004 New York. I could not connect with Lina's story, sometimes borderline Harlequin romance type of story, and honestly could not have care less. I would have been a great book if the author based her story on Josephine and only Josephine and people gravitating around her. Too many of characters stories were undeveloped and let me guessing.