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)
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.
I like books that make me think.
I have recommended this book to friends and family alike. I see people reading the book and always ask them what they think. They always respond "I love it." Maybe it was the way the book was told by different perspectives, or the unique relationships formed by their roles in life, under the most stressful of situations, but I enjoy this audiobook over and over again.
I loved the way this small child integrated herself into the world of "house slaves" and how she overcame her life only to become a slave in another way.
I enjoyed the way there were different voices for each character. Other books have the same narrator "try" to perpetrate different characters in a book, but in this book there are two people creating different voices. To me, that is what makes this audio book wonderful.
I resort to this book which at the end of the day. Maybe it's the story line, characters or the narration, but I always have this book on my I-Pod. Just as the stories my mother would read to me at bedtime, I too do find peace in this audio book.
Yes. The story is beautifully written and you just don't want it to end.
It keeps you interested from beginning to end.
These two narrators are the best I have ever heard. Their ability to interpret so many different characters' voices is simply amazing!!!!!
It was like watching a movie in my mind while I listened.
Please recommend similar titles.
Say at home mom/ wife.... Children are grown. Have 4 Grandchildren. Like to listen to books while I quilt.
the top #1
the story hooked you from the very beginning
I think the whole book did because it made you think what being a slave was like or could have been.
I loved this story, was glued to it and would listen again. Wonderful if you like learning about families, generations, relationships and humanity in the context of history.
This book sounds like it has it all...but it falls as flat as a batch of bread dough that doesn't rise. I bought this one after listening to The Help, it was an Audible recommendation. Its way off base. Yes it has segregation and violence...but its a whole different kind of racial love beating the odds. Its okay on its own merits...just okay.
From the very first chapter, I became enthralled in the history that Kathleen Grissom has created in "The Kitchen House." I absolutely could not stop listening to the book and found myself staying up until the wee hours of the morning just to find out what would happen next. The narrators' performances are absolutely phenomenal and make you feel as if Belle and Lavinia are truly a part of your life.
Addicted Audiobook listener. Always searching for the next best book.
This book was so well written. I was drawn in from the opening and looked for opportunities to keep listening. I cleaned 3 closets and cooked most of the day so I could finish the book. I loved all the characters, even the "villains". They were so well developed that I felt drawn to all of them. My only complaint is that the book ended abruptly. I want to know more about the characters and how they moved on.
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