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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 (10750 )
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  •  
    Laurie GRAND RAPIDS, MI, United States 07-24-12
    Laurie GRAND RAPIDS, MI, United States 07-24-12 Listener Since 2010
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    "wonderful story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Kitchen House the most enjoyable?

    I enjoyed the various characters portrayed in this story. It moved me through so many emotions as the story progressed.


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

    They were able to represent a variety of characters very well.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Stockbridge, MA, United States 07-24-12
    Beth Stockbridge, MA, United States 07-24-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Loved this book!!!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Kitchen House the most enjoyable?

    Loved the characters and the narration was excellent


    What did you like best about this story?

    Love historical novels and this was everything all the reviewers said it was


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

    loved them both equally


    Who was the most memorable character of The Kitchen House and why?

    Mama May- she was smart and insiteful


    Any additional comments?

    Buy it!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Campbell 07-23-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Watch out 'The Color Purple', compellingly awed!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would, it's brilliantly told, I don't care who you are!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Belle, her courage and comprehension of her situation was inspiring


    Who was the most memorable character of The Kitchen House and why?

    Mama May, she fought for everyone, I was thankful for her character.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    barnes winnipeg, manitoba, Canada 07-22-12
    barnes winnipeg, manitoba, Canada 07-22-12 Member Since 2015
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    "masterful"

    fantastic story and characters. really enjoyed the narrative and the switching between characters viewpoints. Loved this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Ladson, SC, United States 07-22-12
    Stephanie Ladson, SC, United States 07-22-12

    I am a working mom with 2 teenagers. I listen to books during soccer practice, basketball practice and every opportunity for me time. I LOVE TO READ!

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    3
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    "Captivated. But disappointed at end."
    What did you love best about The Kitchen House?

    The indentured servant voice provided a fresh point of view. I hesitated on this purchase because there are so many novels set during the American slave period. But, I liked the characters and wanted to know them. I would give this book a thumbs up.


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

    At one point Livinia had three marriage prospects. She picked the wrong man not once but twice. My stomached turned. I said a prayer that my daughters do not make the same unfortunate choices.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Priscilla Raleigh, NC, United States 07-22-12
    Priscilla Raleigh, NC, United States 07-22-12
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    "Riveting!"

    I could not put this book away. If you enjoy reading books about this particular time period, this story will not disappoint. Orlagh Cassidy did a marvelous job narrating, as I connected with Lavinia immediately. Her voice was soothing and she made the character believable. Unfortunately, Bahni Turpin's voice, for me, didn't suit Belle. I found her voice to be a little harsh, unlike the beauty she was portraying. This made Belle's character difficult to connect with at times. Other than that, I have not complaints.
    This is one of my favorites.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SHEILA 07-21-12
    SHEILA 07-21-12 Listener Since 2008
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    "What a wonderful book !"

    I loved this book. It is a view of life on a late 18th century Virginia tobacco farm, as seen through the eyes and words of two young girls into adulthood. When I realized it was a story about the life of slaves, I was concerned. Often such stories are stages for gruesome descriptions and a place to revisit past horrors. I avoid such presentations. However, that is NOT what I found here. It does not minimized the difficulty and injustice of the practice of slavery and indenture, but it focuses more on the emotional and social lives of the characters than on any physical abuses. Such events are clearly referenced, but their descriptions are thankfully left to the readers' imaginations, where they belong. The story is, as expected, a sad tale, and I cried many times throughout the book. I became totally engrossed in the characters and their lives in a way I rarely experience. This author had a remarkable talent for conveying the inner feelings of the characters.

    The narrators did an equally remarkable job. The producers are to be commended for not trying to use a single person to try to take the roles of two completely different girls/women, one an Irish immagrant forced into indenture through the death of her parents and the other a Black girl born into her slavery.

    There was no part of this story that did not ring true; it is completely believable. Don't forget to listen to the epilog that follows. It will explain why it is so remarkable.

    I suggest that this book would appeal to all races, as it does not focus on the morality or brutality of the acts of slavery, but rather on a period in our early American history, on the social structures and complexities of the period, and on just plain old human behavior.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valerie 07-21-12
    Valerie 07-21-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Depressing"
    Any additional comments?

    Historically and educationally very interesting but hard to hear how we treat our fellow man in such a disgusting manner. Found the character of Lavinia and Orlagh Cassidy's narration very annoying. On the whole a very depressing and sad story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reader 07-21-12
    Reader 07-21-12

    Due to disability I am unable to hold a book...the kindle opened a new world of reading for me!

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    "oh the freedom we enjoy in america!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Kitchen House the most enjoyable?

    The narrators


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

    In can't think of one right now.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The three little girls playing together like sisters and best friends.


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

    The end ...overcoming adversity. Becomming stronger because of pain


    Any additional comments?

    Listened to this in two days...couldn't put it down!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie DOTHAN, AL, United States 07-20-12
    Connie DOTHAN, AL, United States 07-20-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Great Read Indeed!"
    If you could sum up The Kitchen House in three words, what would they be?

    I haven't read a book this moving in a long time. Could not put it down. It was very accurate for the period.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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