Monday, February 11, 2013

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

From 1852 to 2004....from one artist to another....from a farm in Virginia to the hustle and bustle of New York City.

THE HOUSE GIRL flawlessly switches between these two time periods telling of the life of Josephine, a slave girl, Lina, a New York City attorney, and Lina's father, Oscar, an artist.  The book leads you through the life of Josephine as she struggles with her decision to "run, it leads you through the life of Lina who is researching families who may benefit from wrong doing during the period of slavery in the United States, and it leads you through the life of Oscar trying to make amends through his artwork.   

The most significant question, though, along with finding descendants is that of who really did create the paintings found in Lu Anne Bell's home?  Was it really Lu Anne or was it Josephine?  Corresponding with this painting mystery and the mystery of Josephine's descendants is that of Lina's mother...what really did happen to her when Lina was only four?  

You will get caught up in both stories because of the great detail Ms. Conklin uses and because of the research.  I love "digging" for historical information.  As you switch between the two stories, you will ask yourself to choose which life you were more interested in....Lina's or Josephine' may be difficult to choose since both were appealing and drew you in, but for me Josephine's story wins hands down for interest.

It took a few chapters, but you will become so involved, it becomes difficult to stop want to know what will become of the characters and the answer to the mysteries.

Each character comes alive with the vivid detail Ms. Conklin uses, and she puts their feelings out in the can feel the tension, the pain, the frustration, the longing, and the fleeting happiness they experience.  I really enjoyed this book because of the history and the research and of course the detailed descriptions of the characters.

The historical aspect and the fact-finding kept me up late.  It is very interesting how the farm's kitchen records, crop records, and births and deaths of every person including the slaves was kept. I thoroughly enjoy these types of
findings.  I also wonder how these records were not destroyed and who would have thought to preserve them.  Such foresight....something to be grateful for. 

Don't miss this book especially if you are a historical fiction buff.  This book pulls you in and will cause you to pause and reflect on the human race and have you wondering about the reasons why we do what we do, have you wondering what the reasons are that lead us to make the choices we make, and have you wondering about the reason we turned out to be the person we are. 5/5

This book was given to me without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review. 


  1. This was a great read.

    If it is in your TBR stack, move it to the top. :)

  2. I'm not a historical fiction fan so I'm on the fence about this book. I'm glad you loved it so much!

  3. Dying to read this one!! WOW!! I got to find it somewhere and read it immediately. Great review. I am so intrigued now.


  4. This one has been tugging at me...and now it's going on my list.

    I like stories that show different lives in different times and detail them so much that we feel like we're there.

    Thanks for your review.

  5. I rarely read historical fiction, but this does sounds very interesting.

  6. I'm adding this to my list. I love stories that go back and forth between two periods and then converge. And I love digging into history too!

  7. Awesome review. This one sounds just fascinating.

  8. historical fiction is my favorite. thanks for the review!

  9. I like the sound of this one. Books that move back and forth through time don't always work well but this one sounds like it does. Great review.