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Tara Conklin

Forfatter af The House Girl

3+ Værker 2,632 Medlemmer 176 Anmeldelser 1 Favorited

Om forfatteren

Tara Conklin received a BA in history from Yale University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and a Master of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a litigator in the New York and London offices of a corporate vis mere law firm. Her short fiction has appeared in The Bristol Prize Anthology and Pangea: An Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe. Her debut novel, The House Girl, was published in 2013. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre
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Værker af Tara Conklin

The House Girl (2013) 1,523 eksemplarer
The Last Romantics (2019) 960 eksemplarer
Community Board (2023) 149 eksemplarer

Associated Works

This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home (2017) — Bidragyder — 38 eksemplarer

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There are four Skinner siblings in Tara Conklin's The Last Romantics. Renee is the oldest, the responsible one. Caroline, the next oldest, is soft-hearted and traditional. Then Joe, the only boy, the gifted athlete, the apple of everyone's eye. And finally Fiona, the baby. The Skinners are a happy family until they're not: when their father dies in an accident, their mother Noni finds out that they're not as well off as she thought, and the loss of not only her husband but the life she thought she had achieved pitches her into a deep depression. They downsize, and Noni takes to her bed. Not for a week or two, or even a month on two, but for a couple years. The Skinner children are more or less left to raise themselves during what they come to call The Pause.

The seeds of what will become of them are planted during The Pause. Renee takes her responsibilities to take care of the others seriously, and becomes dedicated to achieving at a level that will keep anyone from guessing what's going on at home, setting her down a path towards becoming a doctor. Caroline falls in with a neighbor family, forming a bond with one of their boys that will deepen into romance and marriage. Joe's talent and good looks ensure that his outward needs are met, even if he struggles to process his trauma. And Fiona learns to observe, a skill that comes in handy as she becomes a writer and poet. Noni does recover, and the family seems more or less intact, but the damage that's been done can't be undone.

I was biased towards this one from the start: this kind of following-a-group-of-characters-over-time thing is something I absolutely love in a book. I tend to find that the books that stay with me the most are ones where character is first and foremost, and this book is all about character. The siblings and their relationships feel complicated and real. Though they all had moments of being their worst selves, their behaviors felt rooted in how their experiences, particularly during their childhoods, interacted with their innate personalities. I also appreciated that the book never felt the need to have there be a dramatic confrontation between the children and their mother...it generally leaned away from melodrama rather than leaning into it, and I think there are plenty of families that do just try their best to forget the bad moments and move on.

As much as I loved this book for the most part, there were some plot elements that kept me from considering it truly great. First was that The Pause could go on for multiple years without anyone really noticing. As much as Renee was able to serve in loco parentis to her younger siblings, there are things like doctor's visits and parent-teacher conferences and signing up for extracurriculars that seem like they could have been patched over for a while but not for as long as Conklin asked us to believe. And then there was the framing device, which featured a very elderly Fiona (in a world where global climate change has changed things for the worse) interacting with a young woman who might have a connection to the Skinners. This did strike me as a little too convenient and neat. On the whole, though, this is a lovely book about the bonds between siblings and would be perfect for a reader who loves well-realized characters. I very much enjoyed it and highly recommend it!
… (mere)
ghneumann | 77 andre anmeldelser | Jun 14, 2024 |
Tonight. Now.

It did not shake her, what Nathan had said. Freedom was a curious thing. Were the chickens free, running their fool heads off in the yard? The horse, that still must fit the bit between its teeth? Was Missus free? But what else to dream for? There was no dream of Josephine’s that did not contain a place where she might sit and look upon a field or a bird in flight or a person and ponder the lines of that thing, to capture them in pencil or charcoal or ink or pigment. Just to sit for a moment, herself, no one claiming her time or her thoughts or the product of her mind and hands. What other word to call that if not freedom? Not a one is free, Nathan had said, but Josephine did not believe that could be true.

As I finally got around to reading this fabulous book I couldn't believe that it had been sitting around for years (years!) unread on my Kindle. I wonder how many other treasures are hanging out on my bookshelves -- real and virtual.

The book's plot involves two story lines (What my GR friend Cathrine cleverly calls a "two-fer") -- the historical tale of slave and house girl, Josephine Bell; and the modern day story of young lawyer Lina Sparrow whose work on a new case leads her to research the life of Josephine Bell. The two stories are evenly written, which is a testament to the talent of the author (some books with historical/modern splits can end up with one story being significantly better than the other).

I particularly enjoyed the the author's treatment of the historical aspect of the novel. Much time is spent with Josephine's thoughts (rather than just relying on dialogue). These were beautiful passages that conveyed her humanity and the universality of a desire for freedom.

In addition to the "two-fer" readers also get to enjoy a variety of styles in this book. Not only is the story told in prose, but the plot is also revealed via letters, and art critiques -- so readers get to enjoy all sorts in genres in one package!

4 solid stars.

… (mere)
jj24 | 87 andre anmeldelser | May 27, 2024 |
I don't mind unreliable characters, but spoiled brats just bug me. Darcy's husband announces that he's leaving her for a skydiving woman (!), and she quits her actuarial gig and retreats from their expensive condo in Manhattan to her parent's home in Western Massachusetts. When she arrives, she the house empty because her parents also have moved - to Arizona, in part to get away from Darcy and her dependency on them. It's horrifying and hilarious, but Darcy's reaction isn't. She cuts off all communication with the parental units and stays in their home, rarely washing or changing clothes and living off the canned food in the basement. The description of her depression is just so...depressing. Things do get better with Darcy finding two really great friends and a purpose, but by then, I was tired of her shtick.… (mere)
froxgirl | 9 andre anmeldelser | Mar 11, 2024 |
After her husband leaves her and her boring, mundane life for another woman, Darcy decides she needs to move back home to a small town in Murbridge, MA to lick her wounds and hoping they welcome her with open arms. What she finds are things have changed. After 2 months living in her parents house (who have moved to AZ), eating stockpiled canned goods and takeout. she starts to take baby steps outside the house. Her savings have dwindled & in need of a job she finds the Murbridge Community Board loaded with information. What goes on from there are lessons from strangers and neighbors that bring her back into the real world and she finally finds her real self.
I received this copy from Mariner Books - Thank You.
… (mere)
Dannadee | 9 andre anmeldelser | Jan 28, 2024 |



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