"Over the years she had learned to fold down rising emotion just as she would fold the clean bedsheets, the sheet growing smaller and tighter with each pass until all that remained of the wide wrinkled expanse of cotton was a heard closed-in square."
This debut historical-fiction novel by Tara Conklin intertwines two stories. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell is a slave on a failing tobacco farm in Virginia in 1852 and Lina Sparrow is a young lawyer in New York in 2004. The two women are connected with Lina becomes involved in a class action lawsuit against slavery and beings to research Lina and her descendents. It also comes to fact that Lina might have been a famous painter and that her art was passed off as having been created by her owner.
I enjoyed this story - especially that of Josephine in the 1850s. I thought she was an extraordinary women that had to endure circumstances beyond her control. I found myself losing focus a little when reading about Lina in present-day. I really liked description of Josephine's artwork (and would have liked to see more development of this), but the lawsuit seemed out-of-place to me. I felt like it was just placed there as an after thought to better connect the novel, but it felt a little disorganized and unrealistic. Even so, I found myself fascinated with the book. I loved the author's use of Josephine's thoughts in the beginning of the story and thought that the incorporation of letters and art critiques added a lot of interesting aspects to the novel.