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The House Girl
by Tara Conklin
The House Girl is the tale of two women, one a slave living in Virginia, the other an attorney living in New York City. The lives of these two women entwine as they both look for their place in the world.
Josephine is the house girl for Mrs. Bell, a once beautiful woman, who was disowned by her family when she ran off to get married. Mrs. Bell is unable to deliver a healthy child, the evidence of this faces her daily in the graves of her 17 children buried on the property of Bell Creek.
Mrs. Bell sees Josephine, in many ways, as the child that she was never able to have. She teaches Josephine to read and to write, and also gives her access to artistic supplies. Josephine becomes an accomplished artist.
Lina (short for Carolina) is a young attorney in a high-powered New York law firm. She has, so far, put all she is into her work. She lives with her father, who is an artist. Lina's mother has been gone since she was four, and Lina thinks of her often.
Lina is asked to work on a ground-breaking slave reparations case for the firm at the same time that her father opens an exhibit of new paintings - all of Lina's mother, Grace.
Through these women, Conklin explores the themes of freedom, family and self discovery. Beautifully written in the voices of both women, The House Girl is both an engaging story and food for thought.