2014: 43. House Girl

"Mister hit Josephin with the palm of her hand across her left cheek and it was then she knew she would run."

The House Girl, Tara Conklin

This book absolutely screams first novel.  It tells too many stories, picks up to many threads, and leaves many of them hanging.  There is stuff to like here, but it's sort of a mishmash.  Makes me think that they really can't afford editors in the publishing biz anymore.

It tells two stories - that of Josephine, a slave on a Virginia tobacco farm who is ready to try to escape, and that of Lina, a modern day attorney at a big firm who is tasked with finding a perfect plaintiff for a slave reparations case.  Lina learns of Josephine, and the two stories intertwine.  And there is definitely good stuff in here - the parts about Josephine and her life as a slave were very moving and seemed authentic (I mean what do I know about being a slave, but it worked).  And I liked the parts about Lina and her dad, and her dead mother (though that whole thread had a major revelation that just hung out in the breeze - is there going to be a sequel?) 

However, the parts about Lina being a first year associate just fell like a lead brick.  They were so implausible - from the part where she's writing a whole brief (as a first year? Nope), to her relationship with the big partners, to the case she is working on itself.  And I wouldn't quibble, but the author is a former litigator so she should know better.  It totally took me out of the book, how unrealistic those parts seemed.  I don't know - maybe she was trying to make it more dramatic, or was pulling her punches on former employees or something, but why did the totally made up part about slaves in Virginia seem so much more authentic than something this woman actually lived through? And why was that whole part about Lina's mother just left hanging?

An ok book, and I'd even give Conklin another chance, but it definitely needed some tightening up. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017