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The Kitchen House Audiobook

The Kitchen House: A Novel

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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

4.4 (9514 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Diana Kalaheo, HI, United States 03-31-12
    Diana Kalaheo, HI, United States 03-31-12 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    6
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    Performance
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    "TOO MUCH ANGST"
    Where does The Kitchen House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Quite a long way down the list.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Did not listen to the end.


    What about Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin ’s performance did you like?

    The readers were very good, story content the downer.


    If you could rename The Kitchen House, what would you call it?

    Servitude


    Any additional comments?

    This book deals with man's inhumanity to man. Surely the author could have included at least one uplifting sequence. Bad choice on my part.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    YaYaMamaSara 03-31-12 Member Since 2013

    Sara A :)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you liked "The Help" you will love this!"

    Loved this book. The narrators were awesome with the accents. Great story about the history of indentured servants and slavery. I thought it would be depressing but I found I couldn't stop listening!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Brookfield, MO, United States 03-29-12
    Laura Brookfield, MO, United States 03-29-12

    Lauree

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    3
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    "What An Ending."
    What did you love best about The Kitchen House?

    I loved it's unpredictability.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Belle, I loved her voice.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Lovinia and Elly coming up on the smoldering house.


    If you could rename The Kitchen House, what would you call it?

    I wouldn't rename it.


    Any additional comments?

    It will be with me forever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James James Store, VA, United States 03-25-12
    James James Store, VA, United States 03-25-12
    ratings
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    12
    2
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    "Definitely worth listening to"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Kitchen House to be better than the print version?

    Have not read the print version so I cannot compare the two, as a truck driver I prefer to listen while I drive.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Lavinia was my favorite character mainly because the book seems to be centered around her more than the other characters in the story.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    It is hard to pick one scene out of the book that I would call my favorite.


    If you could rename The Kitchen House, what would you call it?

    I don't think I would rename this book.


    Any additional comments?

    The author did a great job in writing this book and it was one of those that I had to keep listening to to see what would happen next. There is something in this story that just keeps you wanting more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lea Zimmerman Gladewater, TX, United States 03-23-12
    Lea Zimmerman Gladewater, TX, United States 03-23-12 Member Since 2013

    bookwormmom45

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just entertainining."

    The story held me throughout, believeable, not overly romantic, very, very human. The author did an excellent job on creating the 'atmosphere' that made me able to picture the scenes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mojo 03-20-12
    Mojo 03-20-12 Member Since 2009
    ratings
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    10
    3
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    Story
    "Really good story line,kept us very interested.."
    Where does The Kitchen House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    We would rank it an 8 out 10..


    What did you like best about this story?

    The era and the whole slave experiences were a new awareness to how the black people werertreated and loved by their masters.


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

    We enjoy the use of different readers during the book...it really helps to allow the mind to create a picture of the person speaking.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I love the name The Kitchen House! That is what drew me to it...human interest story with historical lesson included.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fawn Laytonville, CA, United States 03-20-12
    fawn Laytonville, CA, United States 03-20-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "GREAT! AMAZING! WONDERFUL!"
    What did you love best about The Kitchen House?

    This was only the 2nd book on tape (i put on my ipod) and I have yet to find another to compare! Intense story...but so so so amazing....highly recommend!!!!


    What other book might you compare The Kitchen House to and why?

    The only other so far that I loved as much...would be The Help!


    If you could rename The Kitchen House, what would you call it?

    The Kitchen House is the perfect name...


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Salina, KS, United States 03-19-12
    Donna Salina, KS, United States 03-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "AWESOME LISTEN"
    Where does The Kitchen House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    WOW that is hard to say but there was a lot going on and the book moved me.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way it depicted the difference in the lives of the help and the owners, we I HOPE have grown more then it was back then


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The whole book was very good so the whole story was something I wanted to keep on reading but alas sleep won out...hahaha


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Perhaps


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Foodiewife Monterey, California, United States 03-17-12
    Foodiewife Monterey, California, United States 03-17-12 Member Since 2007

    Wife, mom, full-time employee, food blogger... reading is my addiction. I love audible books during my commutes and doing chores!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Poignant but interesting enough"

    The narrator did a great job. The story grabbed my interest from the beginning, but I have to say that this isn't the most uplifting story of all time. In fact, there were times I struggled through getting past all the cruelty. You can't wear rose colored glasses, while reading this book, because the story didn't end as I had hoped it would. I won't give it away, but at the very end I found myself wishing things would tie up neatly-- and more happily. Overall, I liked Lavinia's character, her strength and integrity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher 03-16-12
    Christopher 03-16-12

    Downeaster

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    9
    5
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    "Sadness and more sadness"

    The story was well laid out, the characters developed very well. Yet it was set up after set up. There would be a soft portion then wham! you're hit again with another deep tragedy. The narrator spoke increasingly in a monotone, as though even she didn't dare to let the mood rise for too long. I began to think this was book of sadness for sadness's sake. The relentless sadness didn't seem to support the difficulty of the character's lives. The sadness became an overshadowing reality that no matter how well a character met her or his challenges, and they did often meet their challenges, never had a chance to overcome the veil. I would not recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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