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The Kitchen House: A Novel | [Kathleen Grissom]

The Kitchen House: A Novel

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (7759 )
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4.6 (5628 )
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  •  
    Laura Newark, DE, United States 10-26-11
    Laura Newark, DE, United States 10-26-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Heartfelt and moving!"

    Great story, loved the readers. I was afraid this would be similar to The Help and it wasn't. I'm not one to tear up on books, but this moved me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jolee Mooresville, IN, United States 10-25-11
    jolee Mooresville, IN, United States 10-25-11 Member Since 2008

    Enjoy reading books, but no time so this is an amazing alternative.

    ratings
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    60
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    Story
    "Really wonderful, except..."

    This was a story that captured me from the moment it started. The narration was terrific and the majority of the characters were believable. There were moments when the tension was such I had to turn my iPod off for a bit.

    However, I wanted to throttle Lavinia, the female lead character. Really, can anyone be so blind and meek and naive? It took some of the joy away from the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mmgo905 10-24-11
    Mmgo905 10-24-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    127
    8
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    "Ending is rushed"

    The book is worth reading; however, the author lack some imagination at the end of the book, and rushed the ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat H. 10-21-11
    Pat H. 10-21-11 Member Since 2004
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    "WONDERFUL BOOK!"

    I loved this book! It was sad but so engrossing. I read it right after reading "THE HELP", and I think they were equally as good. Highly recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary saratoga springs, UT, United States 10-21-11
    mary saratoga springs, UT, United States 10-21-11 Member Since 2011
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    "what an amazing story"

    I absolutely loved this book. I felt like I was right there watching it happen. It broke my heart to see how badly the slaves were treated but I know that this book is true to life. You will not be dissapointed when you download this book. I could have listened to it for another 10 hours.I am already listening to it again. If you liked The Help.... then you will LOVE this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eventgirl Edmonton, AB, Canada 10-21-11
    Eventgirl Edmonton, AB, Canada 10-21-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    8
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    "Wonderful writing, sublime narration."

    The writing in this book is compelling not only for it's descriptions but it's emotion. It holds nothing back. Don't expect unicorns and rainbows here, this is a tough story that needed to be told. Are there some difficult parts? Yes. But there are some wonderful parts about love, redemption and the triumph of the human spirit. Life in the south during this time period was not a happy, easy time. Neither was this a happy, easy book. I'm so glad I read it though. Strong women, amazing families and triumph over adversity.
    Will read it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis 10-20-11
    Phyllis 10-20-11 Member Since 2013

    PDH

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    "The Kitchen House Rules"
    What did you love best about The Kitchen House?

    Memorable story, lovable characters as well as a few


    What does Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Cassidy & Turpin's reading was great. Gave the characters clear personalities.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane PEARLAND, TX, United States 10-20-11
    Diane PEARLAND, TX, United States 10-20-11 Member Since 2010
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    5
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    "Wow!"

    This was an awesome book! There were so many twist and turns, I had no idea how it was going to end. I think it would make a great movie one day!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn CHERRY HILL, NJ, United States 10-17-11
    Marilyn CHERRY HILL, NJ, United States 10-17-11
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    "Could have been better."

    I think this is a very important part of the American story. It is important and a subject I want to know more about. Therefore I was highly looking forward to listening to this book and felt so let down when I was finished. I thought the depiction of slavery was not believable. I feel this book is an insult to the people who lived and died through slavery. The author had a real opportunity to give enligtenment to this subject and didn't come close. I would strongly not recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brandee menifee, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 10-13-11
    brandee menifee, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 10-13-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "depressing"

    well written and good story but this is the saddest more depressing book I've ever "read". Just one bad thing happens after another, longing for a more uplifting story now...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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