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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 (10730 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jana Bouc El Cerrito, CA USA 07-15-12
    Jana Bouc El Cerrito, CA USA 07-15-12 Member Since 2017
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    "Great story and narration"

    I really enjoyed this book and thought it was both well-written and very well read aloud in the audio book. It was interesting to read after a recent listen to both Gone With the Wind and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration.

    It's a bit of an American Upstairs Downstairs story on a southern plantation with the twist of a white Irish girl whose parents died aboard the plantation owner's ship and so was brought back to be raised by his slaves and to work as an indentured servant at the age of 7.

    Great story, great read (or listen in this case). The narrator did a great job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John J Garnish Wiesbaden, Germany 07-13-12
    John J Garnish Wiesbaden, Germany 07-13-12
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    "Entertaining."
    What did you love best about The Kitchen House?

    All in all the story was good, it kept me entertained and I couldn't wait to get into my car so I could listen to the story going to work and back home. The characters were good - loved the good ones, despised the evil ones.


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

    Lavinia and Bell were the main characters of the book, but Marshall and Rankin kind of haunt me. Maybe it is because they were just so evil-hearted and they put me on edge whenever they appeared in the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Taylor 07-12-12
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    "Gripping Story"
    Would you listen to The Kitchen House again? Why?

    Yes. It grabbed my interest in the first sentence, and kept it throughout the entire audiobook. There were no sections that dragged and were too "wordy." Great descriptive writing, and no vulgarity or profanity. I plan to purchase the hardcover edition and will read it in addition to the audio.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The fact that Ms. Grissom was true to the historical period and facts, and she was able to describe the violence and crimes against the innocent without using profane/vulgar language. She left no doubt of what was happening without being offensive. That is really important to me.


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

    Wonderful reading. I liked both of them very much.


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

    Many, many moments, but especially with Mama and Papa when they interacted with Lavenia.


    Any additional comments?

    Absolutely love this book and I look forward to the next one by Ms. Grissom. Great first novel!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen United States 07-12-12
    Kathleen United States 07-12-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Enthralling!!! great characters and story!"
    What did you love best about The Kitchen House?

    Fascinated how these characters lived the lives of slaves and indentured servant in the late 1700's. How their love of family held them together, protecting each other, loving one another. Great writing!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Both Lavinia and Belle had fascinating stories


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

    no but their narrative was great!


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

    yes and no...wanted to hear the whole story but did not want to leave them!


    Any additional comments?

    my first audible book and I am so glad this is the one I chose...it is a book I'll recommend to many, already gave the book to my sister in law!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra 07-10-12
    Debra 07-10-12
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    "Endless tale of Abuse"
    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    We want to learn about history but what does this story have to offer? The conundrum here is artful writing about an entire cast of ill-fated characters. A grimm repetitive account of people who never win. They are only overcome by their environment. Is this your only experience with life? When we lose out on the one hand are there not compensations on the other? When they took care of the evil school master, for example. There was no triumph. No one could every get a morsel of truth to the right person. Are people so truly handicapped? Give us some hope as well. How can any of us carry on in life if the measure of hope is so meagre.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Hollywood, FL, United States 07-09-12
    Joe Hollywood, FL, United States 07-09-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Intresting story"
    If you could sum up The Kitchen House in three words, what would they be?

    real life experience


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

    The Help


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

    no


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

    The big house and Kitchen help


    Any additional comments?

    Very intresting and esay to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Billy FOLSOM, LA, United States 07-09-12
    Billy FOLSOM, LA, United States 07-09-12 Member Since 2015
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    "What a wonderful story!!!!"

    Hope there is a movie!! I couldn't get enough of this book, I will be reading (listening) to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine NORTHVILLE, MI, United States 07-07-12
    Christine NORTHVILLE, MI, United States 07-07-12
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    "Wonderful story... a few chuckles short"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Very reminiscent of The Help and very similar to every girl sold to slavery story but a bit better. Momma Mae is a character you can't help but love. Too many chuckles short to place it anywhere in The Help's league though.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    disudds SLC, UT 07-06-12
    disudds SLC, UT 07-06-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Compelling"

    I didn't expect to be captured by this book quite as much as I was, but I found myself looking forward to my daily commute to find out what would happen next with Lavinia and Belle. All of the characters in the story are rich with a depth of personality not often found in historical fiction. The conflict in the story obviously arrives from the unholiness and unwholesomeness of slavery, but with the interesting twist of Lavinia's indentured servitude. Although some of the scenes seemed a bit contrived and some of the events predictable, overall the story moved at a good pace that allowed me to sink in while also moving forward. The voices are well done and add additional complexity to the story. Although at times the repetition of stories through the voice of the alternate woman (Belle or Lavinia) is redundant, at other times the second view deepens understanding of events and characters. I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cate 07-06-12
    Cate 07-06-12 Member Since 2009
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    "I couldn't stop listening"

    I was so captivated by the story I couldn't stop listening. The story is not new and the charactures are predictable but it was told is the way that kept you wanting more. I loved the two narrators telling the story in tandom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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