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The House Girl

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre–Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.

Featuring two remarkable, unforgettable heroines, Tara Conklin's The House Girl is riveting and powerful, literary fiction at its very best.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 14, 2013 – Lawyer-turned-writer Conklin debuts with a braided novel of two intersecting tales separated by 150 years. In 2004, Lina Sparrow is a first-year associate at a prestigious New York law firm; in 1852, Josephine Bell is the titular "house girl," a slave on a Virginia farm. Assigned to work on a class-action suit involving slavery reparations, Lina searches out a suitable plaintiff for the case, hoping to find a descendant of slaves with an especially compelling story. Lina's father, an artist, suggests that Lina research the story of Josephine, speculated to be the real artist behind paintings attributed to Lu Anne Bell, her white master, and Lina embarks on a search that finds her retracing the footsteps of a runaway slave. The tragedy of Josephine leads Lina deeper into not only Josephine's history but her own, which helps her to make sense of her mother, a woman Lina never knew. Alternating between Lina and Josephine, this novel is unfortunately trite, predictable, and insensitive at its core: the lives of a 19th-century black slave and a 21st-century white lawyer are not simply comparable but mutually revealing, fodder for healing. Striving for affecting revelations, Conklin manages nothing more than unsatisfying platitudes and smugly pat realizations.

Customer Reviews

The House Girl

The best story I have read in years. Real people, real lives, but with a glint of hope. A story I will cherish

The House Girl

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. The characters were so alive that at times they jumped off the page. Well written, it moves easily from present day back to the days where slavery was a way of life. The complexity of the characters along with an interesting storyline make for a good read.


I was disappointed by the storyline of this book. It flipped back and forth without much connection. There were too many coincidences that made the plot seem unrealistic. It was a great idea for a book but was not written well, it almost seemed like a first draft. Too many storylines when one or two, explored in greater detail would have worked better. A waste of money!

The House Girl
View in iTunes
  • $8.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Feb 12, 2013
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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