The House Girl is a work of historical fiction about a 17 year old slave, Josephine Bell, who runs away from her master in 1852. Fast forward to the 2004: a New York City attorney, Lina Sparrow, is assigned to a slavery reparations case and chooses to follow the lead of a young black artist (Josephine), whose mistress, until recently, was given credit for her artwork. If Lina can prove a hereditary connection between a jazz musician who owns some her paintings and Josephine Bell, she has a case.
Well, according the author she has a case. According to me, the whole premise was incredibly weak. I did enjoy the story of Josephine Bell, and the mystery of what happened to her and her baby, but the connection to the lawsuit was awkward. Also, it felt like a third of the book consisted of letters, thrown in for the convenience of making the connection. It just felt very contrived.
The base story, however, was a good one. I hope Ms. Conklin continues to hone her craft.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2013
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