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The house girl
2014
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Summary

A stunning New York Times bestselling novel that intertwines the stories of an escaped slave in 1852 Virginia and an ambitious young lawyer in contemporary New York and asks: is it ever too late to right a wrong?

Lynnhurst, Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run away from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell.

New York City, 2004. Lina Sparrow, an ambitious first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a difficult, highly sensitive assignment that could make her career: finding the "perfect plaintiff" to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.

It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy rocking the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephine's--if Lina can locate one--would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit. While following the runaway house girl's faint trail through old letters and plantation records, Lina finds herself questioning her own family history and the secrets that her father has never revealed: how did Lina's mother die? And why will he never speak about her?

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Booklist Review
Conklin persuasively intertwines the stories of two women separated by time and circumstances but united by a quest for justice. When law associate Lena Sparrow is handed a plum assignment to find the perfect poster child for a class-action suit on behalf of the descendants of American slaves she has little appreciation for how radically the task will change the course of her own life and destiny. As she searches for a descendant of Josephine Bell, a house girl rumored to have been the actual artist of a series of stunning paintings credited to her white mistress, she peels away layers of both Josephine's past and her own complacency. Retracing Josephine's often-elusive path, she uncovers some troubling facts about her parents and the startling lie that formed the basis of her childhood and young adulthood. Stretching back and forth across time and geography, this riveting tale is bolstered by some powerful universal truths.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2010 Booklist
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