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Publisher's Summary

Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In time Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master's opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.

Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom's debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds.

©2010 Kathleen Grissom (P)2017 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow!

Excellent book! This book kept me wanting to listen past my bedtime. I couldn’t go to sleep wondering what would next. Need to find another great story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Great Listen

A very good read, this story has twists and turns I did not expect. The narrators did a great job of adding emotion and drama into their performance. It kept me enthralled until the very end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating story with amazing narrators

I loved everything about this book. We listened to it on a long road trip and the time just flew by. The narrators make the story come alive. I didn't want it to end!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful story

This had to have been difficult for the author to write. The story unfolds the history of our ancestors, sometimes difficult to face. Well written, well narrated.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I became so attached to these characters

Close family by circumstance you see how loving each other has nothing to do with blood.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating story

Told from the perspective of an indentured servant child and a mixed race slave. Two, beautiful voices telling the same story. Two different perspectives of life.

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  • AMBER
  • OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, United States
  • 06-07-18

Amazing book

This was an amazing book. It brought a lot of laughs- and a lot of tears. Very hard to “put down”. Narrators were both phenomenal.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 06-07-18

Two Families, Hardships and Joy

In the early 19th century, Lavinia, a young Irish girl who lost her family during immigration, is brought to a plantation as an indentured servant. She is taken to the kitchen house where Belle, a light-skinned young slave, is assigned to care for her. After a difficult adjustment period, Lavinia comes to think of the plantation as home and the slaves as her family. Life isn't always easy for them, but neither is it for the master's family: Martha, his wife, has to deal with her husband's affairs, the separation from her own family in Philadelphia, the loss of several children, and a doctor who pushes laudanum; Marshall, the heir apparent, is belittled and abused by his father and his tutor; and little Sally longs for playmates but is forbidden to socialize with the black children. Lavinia becomes Sally's main companion and the caregiver for the newest baby, but she also relishes her time in the kitchen house with Belle, Mama May, and the other slaves. We see, through her eyes, the hardships and cruelty that both families must endure. When Lavinia approaches her teens, she is sent to live with Miss Martha's sister, where she will receive a proper education and learn behavior more appropriate for a young white woman, but her ties to both families back home remain strong. Her return, however, is not as idyllic as she had hoped.

Grissom creates memorable characters and a story that keeps the reader's attention. As one would expect in any novel that deals with slavery, there are moments that are truly horrific, and even the happy times are always under the shadow of bondage. I'm looking forward to the sequel, in which Belle's son Jamie, now a grown man, moves to the city and passes as white.

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Superb narration

The story is so great but the voices that brought it life where so great also!

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Captivating....

I enjoyed this story from beginning to end. The narration and actor portrayal of the characters pulled me into the story.