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 story was good and entertaining enough. It kept me interested to the end but I did not love it and walked away with a sort of "eh" feeling. It is not one of those books I feel compelled to share or recommend but I wouldn't say that it was bad either. The book is told by two women and heavily favors one of them, I would have liked to hear more from both sides. And although there is a ton of detail I still feel it was lacking somewhere, but honestly could not tell you where. So overall if you purchase this book I do no think you will regret it, but you may have hoped for more.
"The Kitchen House" is an amazing story of love and family during a dark chapter of US history. Kathleen Grissom's characters are real and alive. I could not stop listening. Belle and Ivinia are two of the strongest, most believable female heroines I have read in a long time. This book is a must-read. The narrators are wonderfully captivating. Truly 5-Stars!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story captures your heart immediately. You will cheer for the heroine throughout this gripping tale. You will follow a young girl trapped in a cruel world, and all along you will be hoping that against all odds she will find a way to save her family and join the man who is her heart's desire. Once you get started, you won't be able to put it down. The two women who narrated this book did an excellent job. This gripping story and wonderful narration will transport you back in time to the kitchen house where a young girl learns what love is.
This will be added to my all time favorites list! Even now after finishing the book I'm still haunted by the story and its characters.
The plot of this book was perdictable. I forced myself to continue listening, thinking the book would get better. Unfortunately it did not. I disliked the narrators voice and accent. I would not recommend this book.
it is a bit dark but what an amazing story! i didn't think i'd like any performance as much as The Help but this really did rival.
For once I wish I had listened and heeded the few who gave this book a poor review. Although the book has some merit as to accuracy how anyone can find such depressing and distressing subject matter "entertaining" is beyond me. I have to say that I did keep listening in hopes that something might go right or that there might be some redemption but alas, none came. The end of the story doesn't really end as you are left hanging as to what happened to most of the characters. Odd.
Yes, as other's have said this book has a lot of tragedy. You get enough without it going into gory detaill. This is an unforgettable tale, well told. I like the way the chapters are first one person telling the story and then the other. Very easy to follow. The Narrators do an excellent job. I love the way they portray the accents so well. There is compassion and depth in this book.
So many of the characters were so evil. The performances were wonderful but the story was pretty harsh. I thought it was a little hard to believe. The characters were either totally good or totally rotten and pretty predictable. I would not recommend it.
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