The House Girl by Tara Conklin
(William Morrow, 2013, 370 pages)
Two stories are intertwined in this novel. In 19th century Virginia we are introduced to Josephine, a young slave who wants nothing more than to escape from her life. One small outlet she has is when her mistress allows her to join her in her studio to paint and sketch. But Josephine has sights on running north…
In 21st century New York we meet Lina Sparrow, a young associate at a large law firm who has recently been given the assignment of finding a plaintiff for a reparations lawsuit her firm recently acquired. In her search for the perfect plaintiff she learns about the artist Lu Anne Bell – a 19th century southern woman whose art has recently come into the news as people question whether or not she was truly the artist behind her work.
Josephine and Lina’s stories inevitably cross. The book looks at history, art, and how people make the decision to claim the lives they truly want.