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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

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Performance
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  •  
    Wendy Washington, DC, United States 02-21-12
    Wendy Washington, DC, United States 02-21-12 Member Since 2014
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    "AWESOME"
    Would you listen to The Kitchen House again? Why?

    I MIGHT, TYPICALLY I ONLY LISTEN ONCE.


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

    THE HELP. THE WRITING AND NARRATION WAS SUPERB.


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

    NOT SURE.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    YES


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 02-16-12
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 02-16-12 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

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    "The Oddest Premise"

    The premise on this book is quite peculiar. A white Irish indentured child raised in a black slave household. I suppose it could have happened.
    What I enjoyed most was the knowledge that even people in helpless positions find ways to structure their world to work. It's something I've always believed. It runs quite strongly through this book.
    It was a worthy but odd entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennie Kissimmee, FL, United States 02-16-12
    Jennie Kissimmee, FL, United States 02-16-12
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    "Good Listen"

    I enjoyed this book a great deal. While it told the story of the terrible things that happened, it was not graphically descriptive. The story was interesting and the narration was fantastic. I've heard some people compare this to "The Help". I don't think this is a good comparision. The two stories are set in completely different eras and I believe that "The Kitchen House" is far more sombre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trudi Westminster, CO, United States 02-16-12
    Trudi Westminster, CO, United States 02-16-12 Member Since 2014
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    "excellent!"

    I loved this book. Excellent story, and readers are top notch! Each time I think I've loved a book so much that I might not ever like one as much again, I find one that is even better - this is that book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa 02-14-12
    Lisa 02-14-12
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    "Excellent"
    If you could sum up The Kitchen House in three words, what would they be?

    Great character development


    Which character – as performed by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin – was your favorite?

    Bell


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

    Both, sad and funny and sometimes both simultaneously.


    Any additional comments?

    A wonderful listen, I never wanted the story to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer Sacramento, California, United States 02-14-12
    Kindle Customer Sacramento, California, United States 02-14-12
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    "Beautiful, and so truly heartbreaking tragedy"

    Narration truly beautiful. A heartbreaking tale of life in the south before the civil war. Perhaps not sad enough, but I still had trouble finishing it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WWBill G 02-14-12
    WWBill G 02-14-12 Member Since 2010

    WWBillG

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    "Well written but never more than a soap opera"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    This could have been such a good book. Well drawn historic fiction, interesting characters and above average audio presentation. Too bad it never rises above a run of the mill soap opera. By the mid point you can predict the conclusion. Keep hoping you are wrong but it just below average Jackie Collins set in the slave quarters.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 02-13-12
    Stephanie ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 02-13-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great characters, good story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have recommended it to friends: any book that I tear through in three days gets recommended.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The character development. Grissom has an enormous cast of characters, and each one is distinct and memorable: not an easy feat to pull off.


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

    Although the chance of an Irish child retaining her accent seems slim to nil (she'd have acquired the same accent as slaves who raised her, in reality), Cassidy's soft Irish accent did give Lavinia a distinct characteristic. She brought through Lavinia's hesitant, hidden personality. Turpin's Belle always sounds cheerful and faintly amused, even when awful things are happening to her, which isn't quite right all the time; but Belle is by far the stronger character so it mostly works.


    If you could take any character from The Kitchen House out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Uncle Jacob: I want to know his backstory.


    Any additional comments?

    The first half of the book is significantly stronger than the second half. The conclusion is not as satisfying as I had hoped, but for a first novel, it's a good effort. I look forward to her subsequent works, as her writing becomes more polished.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glenn Calgary, Alberta, Canada 02-06-12
    Glenn Calgary, Alberta, Canada 02-06-12
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    "Great from start to finish"

    This was a great book with great characters and story lines. The switching back and forth between the two characters worked out well. That was a new approach for me but I enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie San Jose, CA, United States 02-05-12
    Laurie San Jose, CA, United States 02-05-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Great Characters so Much Action"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Kitchen House?

    It was wonderful being taken to a southern plantation in the early 1800's and it's day to day activities by this story teller. I felt as though I was living right there in the middle of this time period. Since the story comes from more than one point of view it was even more interesting. The voices were lovely and contributed to the whole feeling and time period. The accents and the expression in their voices were fantastic.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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