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 listened to this from my itouch while riding on the back of our Harley. First time I tried that and it worked out great. No problem hearing and the narrator was terrific. I think there may have been more than one. This story follows two individual women; one a slave the other an indentured white girl who is raised by slaves and feels they are her true family. The story is very interesting and captivating. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to all those who love southern history. It can be very sad but the strength of the characters and their ability to survive is truly inspirational.
This book is rich in history with characters that you fall in love with. I really didn't want this book to end, but when it did I thought about it for days. If you liked The Help you will also like this book.
I really loved the way this author wrote this book. There was enough going on to make it hard to put the book aside.
My daughter recommended this book (she had gotten the book from the library) "Can't put it down" was her statement. Well, let me tell you she was correct. From the first chapter of the book ( I have it on audio) I could not take my headphones off! I was frustrated whenever I would have to put my ipod on charge for a bit and couldn't wait to get back to it. The characters are likeable ... if a bit folksey and not always totally believeable.... the story line is a bit predictable in places but not completely. The author gives a few surprises here and there. All in all a great listen....the narrators are wonderful and the characters voices are easy to identify and the accents are very accurate and quite believeable. I enjoyed it so much and I can't wait for something more from this author!!
This is a fantastic book, and well worth the time. The characters are wonderful and engaging, and it's easy to feel their pains and joys throughout. The author's afterword is very interesting and well worth sticking around to hear. I highly recommend this book!
I love audio books. As I spend hours a day driving they keeps me going. Thank you great performers and delightful writers.
I loved this book. Was hard to read at times due to tears, but I could not stop.
The KITCHEN HOUSE was captivating while it was wrenching. This is historical fiction that teaches while keeping you riveted to the characters, good and evil. Listen the first time for the character development and again for Antebellum culture and what it means to be a family.
I loved the characters in this beautiful and heartbreaking story. I was sad when it ended because I cared so much about the everyone in the story. Well worth your time and attention.
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