Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The House Girl Tara Conklin Book Review



Lina Sparrow, a modern-day lawyer, is tasked to find a suitable -plaintiff who will be the face of a massive and historical lawsuit pertaining to the reparation for the descendants of African-American slaves. Juxtapose to the controversy surrounding a series of paintings attributed to the wife of a Slave-Owner Farmer in rural Virginia before the Civil War.

We travel back in time to 19th Century Virginia, where Lu Anne Belle and her slave girl Josephine Bell are creating the paintings based on their life at the farm. Obviously, Josephine has more talent than her owner. It is implied that majority of the pictures in Lu Anne's studio is really Josephine's. 

Josephine is also planning to escape from the Bell farm and make her way to the Underground Railroad being conducted by the Rounds Family.

Lina is on a quest to find Josephine's descendants and to give her the proper recognition for the Bell paintings and for her descendants to claim what is rightfully theirs. She is also on her own journey to discover what really happened to her mother who she believes died when she was 4 years old.

The beginning of the book was promising but after a few chapters and the introduction of more characters and sub plots, do you realize that there is no real connectivity to the events of the past and the present. I became a bit disoriented and genuinely disappointed.

In one scene, after being captured and beaten by slave catchers, she was still able to hold on to her paintings. Who would have believed that she was able to save her paintings from being destroyed while being tied down. It didn't feel real to me.

The theme was interesting and catchy. Slave girl who is an artist and who've left a body of work that depicts a realistic view of the life of an 19th century African-American slave. But the author seemed to be in a hurry to finish the book and the way she ended the novel didn't bring justice to what she initially presented to her readers.

For me, the book wasn't able to resonate any feelings to it's reader. Too many ideas or storylines intercepting with one another. It seems to me that the author tried to emulate A.S. Byatt's novel, "Possession". 

Overall, the book was promising but lack a climactic scene to connect all the dots. I finished the book and didn't regret reading it but it left me in an unfulfilled emotional state.



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