On a Virginia plantation in 1852, a young house slave tends to her ailing mistress, creates exquisite paintings and plans her escape. In 2004 New York, an ambitious young lawyer works night and day on the biggest case of her promising career.
Tara Conklin's debut novel, The House Girl, intertwines these women's narratives in a story of art and injustice.
The book opens with a powerful line: "Mister hit Josephine with the palm of his hand across her left cheek and it was then she knew she would run." From that slap and sudden insight, the novel adds layer after layer of secrets and discoveries, as well as a building sense of the immeasurable damage wrought by centuries of slavery.
Conklin, [alumna of The Fletcher School, Tufts University,] joins NPR's Rachel Martin to discuss her paired protagonists and how she addresses the problem of revisionist history.
Listen to the full interview