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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 (9260 )
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  •  
    Danielle Huntsville, ON, Canada 10-07-11
    Danielle Huntsville, ON, Canada 10-07-11 Member Since 2010
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    "disappointing"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    April RENTON, WA, United States 10-06-11
    April RENTON, WA, United States 10-06-11 Member Since 2015
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    50
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    "awesome!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth 10-04-11
    Ruth 10-04-11

    rrebeccap

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One sickening event after the next..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy 10-04-11
    Wendy 10-04-11
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    "One of the Best"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Londa Lebanon, OR, United States 10-03-11
    Londa Lebanon, OR, United States 10-03-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Excellent!"

    Had to listen to it twice, back to back, and am thinking it won't be long before I listen to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lisa metairie, LA, United States 10-03-11
    lisa metairie, LA, United States 10-03-11 Member Since 2006
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    "This was a hard book to listen to..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa M. Ludwig Metairie, louisiana, United States 10-03-11
    Lisa M. Ludwig Metairie, louisiana, United States 10-03-11 Member Since 2006

    booklover

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    "This was a hard book to listen to..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fawn Sussex, WI, United States 09-30-11
    Fawn Sussex, WI, United States 09-30-11
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    "Loved it!"

    Truly loved this book. I love historical fiction like this, and this was a real eye-opening look into the past. It was not a "pretty" time in history, and they don't sugar coat it here. Loved the narration also!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James & Sheila 09-30-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Memorable"

    The Kitchen House is one of those books that will not be easily forgotten even years later. The story was well written and well read. It's not a lighthearted book, but it certain drew me in and kept me interested all the way through. I loved the diversity of the characters and the period in which it was set.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Isabelle Middlesex, VT, United States 09-29-11
    Isabelle Middlesex, VT, United States 09-29-11 Member Since 2014
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    "four stars plus"

    A good book. It started being fun about half way through. It's dark, but the story works pretty well. I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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