The House Girl by Tara Conklin
A recent book that’s been getting rave reviews and that’s being compared to “The Help” is “The House Girl”. Set in both present day New York and 19th century antebellum Virginia, it follows the story of 17 year old slave Josephine Bell, and her artist-mistress, Lu Anne Bell. We’re also introduced to a determined present day lawyer, Lina Sparrow, who is up for the trial of a lifetime in her attempt to find the perfect plaintiff for a multi-million dollar lawsuit in reparations for the descendants of American slaves. In her research, Lina stumbles upon Josephine Bell’s story, and the big question everyone wants to know is this: did Lu Anne Bell create art, or did her slave? Filled with impeccable historical scholarship and multi-layered character development, this is an important and fascinating read. I believe this book has that same magic effect “The Help” has had for so many readers. It also calls up some nagging questions that need to be answered. For instance, how many generations does it take to repair wrongs done to a people group? Are there current repercussions for descendants of slaves today that the American people are not aware of? How would the US government count the cost of so many unnamed lives, over 246 years of American history? This book grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. I’ve been recommending it everywhere, and the plot is a great conversation starter, too.