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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 (10914 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sheri Little Hocking, OH, United States 07-06-12
    Sheri Little Hocking, OH, United States 07-06-12 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding!"
    Where does The Kitchen House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The only book I've listened to and immediately upon finishing it, I started over. I was suprised at what I had missed the first time through. I enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first.


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


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin West Bountiful, UT, United States 07-05-12
    Robin West Bountiful, UT, United States 07-05-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unlikely"

    I debated on how many stars to give this book. Just on pure ???listen-ability??? I???d give it 5 stars. The reader was great and the story flowed along just fine. However, the story itself seemed so farfetched to me. How could anyone be so dense as the main character? I also felt that everyone in the book had a stereotypical role to play. The good guys were unbelievably good and the bad, well???. Bad to the bone. The good and the bad seemed to be dependent on the person???s feelings about slavery. The story does take place in the late 1700???s when slavery was socially acceptable. I???m not defending the practice I???m just saying??? the story placed a lot of moral judgment through modern lenses.

    My last beef is, and perhaps my greatest, was the ending. Really? After all the emotional investment into Lavinia???s life, the story felt incomplete without more details of her life going forward. There were hints but nothing that felt like a conclusion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennie Herndon, VA, United States 07-05-12
    Jennie Herndon, VA, United States 07-05-12 Member Since 2016

    I do crossword puzzles in pen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Tale of Two Women"
    Where does The Kitchen House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The Kitchen House made a great audio book because it was dually narrated. In the book, two characters (a young slave woman, Belle, and the 7-year-old Irish indentured servant girl she is put in charge of, Lavinia), and two different women narrate their respective characters in the audio book. However, both women have great voice acting capabilities and the characters in the book all have their own distinct voices. Though there is a prologue which appears to tell sthe whole story, it goes much deeper.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 07-05-12
    Linda 07-05-12

    I AM RETIRED LOVE TO LISTEN TO AUDIBLE BOOKS IN BED . LOVE SEWING,CRAFTS, AND GOING TO CHURCH.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The kitchen house"
    What did you love best about The Kitchen House?

    the narrators were great it is a very exciting book they went into detail which made the book exciting


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

    when she was little growing up with mama and papa geroge


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

    they were great very intertaining


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

    both


    Any additional comments?

    couldnt wait ti finish the book which she had more stories of this kind

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda M-W DeRoche 07-05-12 Member Since 2008
    ratings
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    198
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    "Great story"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It took me back in time and the narrators brought the characters to life. I recommended it to my family and they loved it too. A book you are sad to have end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JENNIFER EL MONTE, CA, United States 07-04-12
    JENNIFER EL MONTE, CA, United States 07-04-12 Member Since 2017
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    3
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    "Best book I have listen to date."
    What disappointed you about The Kitchen House?

    Absolutely nothing


    What was most disappointing about Kathleen Grissom’s story?

    Absolutely nothing


    Would you be willing to try another one of Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin ’s performances?

    Yes


    What character would you cut from The Kitchen House?

    None


    Any additional comments?

    I could not stop listening. This book was so well written that I listened for 10 hours straight. Wonderful writer, I want more and hope that she Follows up with a a sequel. I would love to see the new struggle of Lavinia and Belle now both free and running a plantation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MS 07-04-12
    MS 07-04-12 Member Since 2010

    I like historical, southern books - southern accents, antiques - The Ole' West, Ghost Towns, Victorian Era, Southern Humor!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Liked it..."

    I liked the book and the narrators. Long story and I loved listening to this book in my car. Bahni Turpin was awesome as a narrator. Would listen again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eileen Raleigh, NC, USA 07-03-12
    Eileen Raleigh, NC, USA 07-03-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "could not put down fast enought - wasted credit"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone who doesn't read very many books, fiction or nonfiction, that deal with history


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    a mystery


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin ?

    yes, not a problem with narration


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Kitchen House?

    I would cut every cliched character but in this case that would mean no book.


    Any additional comments?

    I bought this after listening to "The Help" but ensemble casting cannot make up for lack of believable characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Hannon 06-27-12
    Mike Hannon 06-27-12 Member Since 2010
    ratings
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    "Would recommend this to everyone!"
    Would you listen to The Kitchen House again? Why?

    It was an easy listen that I didn't want to end. Characters were so well developed and real. So well written that you felt like you observing the story. What a sad reflection on our country and the reality of the South during that time period.


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

    Everything.


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

    The tutors part, how sad and real. Ma Betts death.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy 06-26-12
    Peggy 06-26-12
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    "Could not top listening"
    If you could sum up The Kitchen House in three words, what would they be?

    family, engrossing, heart-wrenching


    What did you like best about this story?

    All of it


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

    It made it clear that you were listening from two very different points of view. Their accents were different, which made it easy to tell when you were switching characters.


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

    There was definitely a lump in my throat when Livia was in trouble, and in the last few sections of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I would very much like to listen to more books like this. I didn't want to stop listening. Excellent book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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