The story flashes back to Josephine’s life on a failing Virginia tobacco plantation, where she is both loved and abused, on the very day in 1852 when the young girl decides to escape slavery forever. The author brilliantly weaves the two plots together, showing how the various forms of psychological bondage experienced by the different characters keeps them from being truly free. Similarly, the anguish Josephine experiences as she sifts through the conflicting emotions she has for Lu Anne, whom she has served as a “house girl,” demonstrates the devastating emotional impact of chattel slavery on its victims.
For all of her liberties, Lina, cut off from normal family life and working long, exhausting hours, is in some ways a contemporary “house girl.” The historical detective work which Lina must do in order to uncover the truth adds another level of suspense to an already gripping novel. Anyone who enjoys historical mysteries will find The House Girl an unforgettable read full of tragedy, pathos and triumph.
(This review originally appeared in the May 2013 edition of the The Historical Novels Review.)
(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)