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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 (10177 )
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Performance
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  •  
    s.çoulombe 05-20-12
    s.çoulombe 05-20-12 Member Since 2010
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    "good book"

    This book makes you feel for the characters. I felt their pain and very rare happiness. It is worth a read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dmac62x 05-19-12
    dmac62x 05-19-12
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    "Excellent!"

    Excellent story with just the right balance of tragedy and triumph. I highly recommend!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Becky Isom 05-18-12
    Becky Isom 05-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great Listen."
    Would you listen to The Kitchen House again? Why?

    I would listen to this story again. I loved it. The characters were realistic and dynamic. You could see how they were caught in their circumstances and were trying to navigate through thier world. It made me think about what family is and what we do for those we love.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda USA 05-14-12
    Rhonda USA 05-14-12 Member Since 2016

    Rhonda478

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    "Captivating!"

    Good story, many twists and turns, I cheered for the protagonist and jeered the antagonist...just the kind of book I enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rae Billings, MT, United States 05-13-12
    Rae Billings, MT, United States 05-13-12
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    "I loved this book, well written and well performed"
    What made the experience of listening to The Kitchen House the most enjoyable?

    Historically accurate, the story kept me engrossed and the personalities rang true.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Just very well done.


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

    The emotions were presented honestly, sometimes sweet, sometimes horrific, but never mawkish.


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

    Can't think of a better name.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy Roanoke, VA, United States 05-12-12
    Wendy Roanoke, VA, United States 05-12-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Gut-wrenching"

    What a great story this author spun! And she really did her homework on the pre-Civil War South. The story gripped me at every turn. Although it is a sad story, it was not an uncommon story in the slave-holding south. I see the mentality of the whites in the slave-holding south as an evil sickness, one that still has lingering negative consequences in our country today, and this book goes right to the heart of the sickness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindra Hurst, TX, United States 05-10-12
    Kindra Hurst, TX, United States 05-10-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Wonderful!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Kitchen House to be better than the print version?

    Absolutely! The alternation between the southern African American dialect and the Irish dialect is enchanting.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Kitchen House?

    Livinia's discovery of her maternal instinct with Campbell.


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

    They brought me into the story as if it was their own they were telling.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I am not done yet, but I am sure it will be difficult when Livinia has to leave the kitchen house.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly 05-10-12
    Kimberly 05-10-12
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    "Cant Stop Listening!"
    Would you listen to The Kitchen House again? Why?

    Yes, Yes, Yes.. well written, well performed.. Characters come across in vivid colors, I laughed and cried...


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Belle and Lavinia.... They crossed racial boundaries of the time and exhibited the true meaning of family.


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

    They made the characters! They are expert performers.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    My heart broke several times!!!


    Any additional comments?

    Dont hesitate.. buy this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kay EARLETON, FL, United States 05-05-12
    kay EARLETON, FL, United States 05-05-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Page-turner!"
    Where does The Kitchen House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Among the top five....thoroughly enjoyed this book, story sad but seemed so real. Would read others by this same author.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the emotional impact


    Have you listened to any of Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Bittersweet


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Iantorno Denver, CO, United States 05-03-12
    Suzanne Iantorno Denver, CO, United States 05-03-12
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    "Wonderful book!"
    Where does The Kitchen House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's not my favorite, but this book was fascinating and enjoyable.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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