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 enjoyed the story and development of the characters. I just could not finish the book. Every white person was mean and ignorant. Every slave was wise and faithful. At least that was the way up to the part when I put it aside.
World Without End and Pillars of the Earth
This book is a must read. I am usually a modern detective fan but two of my favorite books are The World Without End and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I enjoyed those historical fiction stories so much that when I read the description of this book, I thought I would give it a shot. I was immediately hooked and could not put it down.
I found myself quickly falling in love with the two main characters and on the edge of tears more than once. There are some very disturbing events that take place in this story, but it was the reality of the time. If you listen to this book you will find yourself cheering on the main characters. You will also be waiting with bated breath for the next paragraph throughout the story.
reviews for fun
Kathleen Grissom wrote a wonderful story of a difficult time in this country's history. She did a superb job of presenting her characters with such warmth. I loved the good in the characters she wrote about but she also depicted the evil in some people of that era. Both narrators were excellent. I had hoped for a different ending for one of the characters. The book was well done from beginning to end.
The narration by two different people gave a unique view of the story.
On a couple of accasions I found myself yelling "Don't do that" at my car radio. Such was my absorption with this book. When it was all over I realized that to be that involved with the charecters is the mark of a great book. The narration was spot on and I recommend this book without reservation.
I listen to books as I work. It's a beautiful life.
I really enjoyed this book. The character developement was amazing! You really end up feeling as though you know the characters & you feel their joys and pains. I'll be listening to this one again.
Yes, but with reservations. This book is compelling and addicting, but painful and gut-wrenching.
The haunting prologue drew me in. I couldn't stop thinking about the green headrag, the year, the handmade shoes or the weight of the body hanging from the large oak tree.
I also loved the carefree moments of riding in the wagon to church.
Both characters were wonderful, but Bahni Turpin created a grounded, loving, adaptable and earnest Belle that I couldn't help but admire and love.
The entire book, from beginning to end, was intensely emotional; I think I had an adrenaline rush throughout the entire thing!
great story did not want to stop listening
I love all of the characters, their wants, short comings. You develop an understanding of theses people and their lives and the choices they make or are forced into.
all of them
yes! I am an audio freak. Audiobooks deals with the "theatre" in your mind...
Gone with the Wind. The slavery aspect was very similar, but more true to life. The author really did her homework.
Well, I don't know who was who, but Belle stood out for me....
I'd call it...."The Kitchen refuge"
I look forward to more audiobooks from Kathleen Grissom. She's really gotten under my skin. Great work!! I highly recommend this listen.
The best book I've listened to so far.
The characters were well defined and the story never got slow or boring.
When Lavinia (Abiniya) is given a handmade doll by "mama."
If I could have, I would have listened from start to finish in one session, but...I need to sleep on ocassion. I will tell you though, this is the first audio book I have finished in 2 days!!
You will not be able to pull yourself away!!!
Nah...but it is an interesting contrast, where there the lives of slaves and indentured servants is seen alongside those of their white "owners". Very lovable and memorable characters. A great story that is not like all the others.
Another reviewer stated it will spoil you for your next read. They were so right. It took me several days before I went on to start another book.
This is definitely a book I would read/listen to again.
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