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The House Girl (P.S.)by Tara Conklin
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Featuring two remarkable, unforgettable heroines, Tara Conklin's The House Girl is riveting and powerful, literary fiction at its very best.
“Luminous....The rare novel that seamlessly toggles between centuries and characters and remains consistently gripping throughout....Powerful.” BookPage
“Conklin persuasively intertwines the stories of two women separated by time and circumstances but united by a quest for justice....Stretching back and forth across time and geography, this riveting tale is bolstered by some powerful universal truths.” Booklist
“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.” Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette
“The House Girl is a heartbreaking, heartwarming novel, ambitious, beautifully told, and elegantly crafted. Tara Conklin negotiates great vast swaths of time and tribulation, character and place, with grace, insight, and, simply, love.” Laurie Frankel, author of Goodbye for Now and The Atlas of Love
“The House Girl is an enthralling story of identity and social justice told through the eyes of two indomitable women, one a slave and the other a modern-day attorney, determined to define themselves on their own terms.” Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke
“Tara Conklin's powerful debut novel is a literary page-turner filled with history, lost love, and buried family secrets. Conklin masterfully interweaves the stories of two women across time, all while asking us to contemplate the nature of truth and justice in America.” Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
“[G]rabs you by the bonnet strings and starts running.” Entertainment Weekly
“Conklin...is a skilled writer...who knows how to craft a thoughtful page-turner....Were glued to the pages.” Seattle Times
“A seamless juxtaposition of past and present, of the lives of two women, and of the redemptive nature of art and the search for truth and justice. Guaranteed to keep readers up long past their bedtimes.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Infused with ominous atmosphere and evocative detail...a dramatic montage of narrative and personal testimonies that depicts the grotesque routines of the slave trade, the deadly risks of hte Underground Railroad and the impossible choices that slaves and abolitionists faced.” Washington Post
“Rich and surprising...will make hearts ache yet again for those who suffered through slavery as well as cheer for those — Conklin and Lina — who illuminate their stories.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Assured and arresting....You cannot put it down.”” Chicago Tribune
“Conklin's sensitive, deft handling of complex racial and cultural issues, as well as her creation of a complicated, engaging story make this book destined to be a contender for best of 2013.” School Library Journal (starred review)
“Exquisite...Conklin takes us down a curious rabbit hole that drops us before a looking glass of uncomfortable truths about race, power, art, family, law and ethics....One of those books in which there's not one, two or three, but about ten good parts you'll want to read and reread.” Essence
It's shelved under historical fiction, but The House Girl reads more like a historical whodunit, and a smart one at that....Both Josephine and Lina are intricately drawn characters — fierce, flawed and very real.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A sorrowful, engrossing novel in which the pursuit of justice serves as a catalyst to a more personal pursuit for truth....Through Josephine and Lina's journeys, The House Girl is also a meditation on motherhood, feminism, loss, and, ultimately, redemption.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“This will be the book-club book of 2013.” Marie Claire
Lina Sparrow is an ambitious young lawyer working on a historic class-action suit seeking reparations for the descendants of American slaves. Josephine is a seventeen-year-old house slave who tends to the mistress of a Virginia tobacco farm — an aspiring artist named Lu Anne Bell. Alternating between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, The House Girl is a searing tale of art, history, love, and secrets that intertwines the stories of two remarkable women.
About the Author
Tara Conklin has worked as a litigator in the New York and London offices of a corporate law firm but now devotes her time to writing fiction. She received a BA in history from Yale University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Born in St. Croix, she grew up in Massachusetts and now lives with her family in Seattle, Washington. The House Girl is her first novel.
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