In The Kitchen House, author Kathleen Grissom weaves together the stories of two women: Lavinia, an Irish immigrant who, in 1791, arrives alone in America at 7-years-old and becomes an indentured servant on a Virginia tobacco plantation, and Belle, the slave who takes care of her. Narrators Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin (known for her work as Minny in The Help) alternate chapters, so listeners get the same story from two very different perspectives both with their own unique voice. Both Lavinia’s Irish accent and Belle’s southern dialect are smooth and authentic, and as both characters interact with the same group of people, the narrators keep the secondary voices consistent; they can manage the white-collar accent of a Philadelphia society girl, the dangerous undertones of a malicious slave owner, and the distinctive voices of each of the plantation’s slaves with equal confidence.
Grissom, who says she was inspired by her own modern-day renovation of a Virginia plantation, fills the novel with careful details, historical touches, and believable racial and political tensions. As Lavinia grows up, she finds herself caught between the slaves that raised her and the white world that waits for her and her tone, naïve and uncomprehending when she’s not allowed to sit with her black friends in church as a child, matures along with her. She sounds weary and resigned (though still optimistic) when, as an adult, she faces similar challenges. As Belle navigates complicated relationships with her lover, parents, and siblings, the reading remains convincing, emotional, and satisfying. And when a generation of closely-held secrets leads to danger and tragedy for both women, each is forced to choose where her loyalties lay. Blythe Copeland
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.
©2010 Kathleen Grissom (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Forget Gone With the Wind. Belle and Lavinia, the heroines in this novel, will make Scarlett seem like a wimp in comparison….Together they narrate a story that grabs the reader and demands to be devoured. Wow.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“[Grissom’s] debut twists the conventions of the antebellum novel....Provides a trove of tension and grit, while the many nefarious doings will keep readers hooked to the twisted, yet hopeful, conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Kathleen Grissom peers into the plantation romance through the eyes of a white indentured servant inhabiting the limbo land between slavery and freedom, providing a tale that provokes new empathy for all working and longing in The Kitchen House.” (Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone and Rebel Yell)
I had trouble putting this book down. I use books on tape when I walk and with this book I just kept walking. I walked for 2 1/2 hrs one day just so I could keep listening. Fantastic!
I loved this book. The narrator was fantastic. I could almost envision the setting. The story line was a little tired towards the end but overall it was very well written with characters that came to life through the story.
I would absolutely listen to the kitchen house again. The story was captivating and the narrator did a wonderful job depicting the voices of the characters. This books stirs your emotions with the events that transpire. I cant wait to listen to this book again. I will look for further book from this Author and Narrator both.
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author Kathleen Grissom wrote an exceptionally intriguing story! She describes events, people, and places with great detail and takes you back into that era very easily! The readers were absolutely the best! I highly recommend this book! The story revolves around a main character (Lavinia) who is an orphaned Iris girl growing up in a kitchen house with slaves on a tobacco plantation. Her interaction with so many different people in her life time makes the story very captivating and interesting!! I liked the ending also. Well rounded listen. You won't be disappointed! I hope it's made into movie or mini series!
Couldn't get enough of this book. The story, while heart wrenching is amazing. The narration was perfect! If you liked The Help, you will love The Kitchen House!
I MIGHT, TYPICALLY I ONLY LISTEN ONCE.
THE HELP. THE WRITING AND NARRATION WAS SUPERB.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
The premise on this book is quite peculiar. A white Irish indentured child raised in a black slave household. I suppose it could have happened.
What I enjoyed most was the knowledge that even people in helpless positions find ways to structure their world to work. It's something I've always believed. It runs quite strongly through this book.
It was a worthy but odd entertainment.
I enjoyed this book a great deal. While it told the story of the terrible things that happened, it was not graphically descriptive. The story was interesting and the narration was fantastic. I've heard some people compare this to "The Help". I don't think this is a good comparision. The two stories are set in completely different eras and I believe that "The Kitchen House" is far more sombre.
I loved this book. Excellent story, and readers are top notch! Each time I think I've loved a book so much that I might not ever like one as much again, I find one that is even better - this is that book.
Great character development
Both, sad and funny and sometimes both simultaneously.
A wonderful listen, I never wanted the story to end.
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