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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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Captivating....

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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved it!

loved the entire story line, development of characters. many twists I did not expect. narration is perfect.

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book club read

narrator on point, characters well described
very good choice for book club discussion we will have quite the night

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my ultimate favorites

This book is phenomenal, I couldn’t stop listening. The narrators are spot on with their accents. The story is riveting, right from the start and all the way through. A beautifully written story about love and survival, and the worst and best of the human race.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not the typical antebellum novel

This story is full of surprises and does not portray an easy life for any of the characters. The compassion for and understanding of family was keenly expressed and the recognition of class and place within society noted as the story developed. The ability to keep secrets and the various misunderstandings left some of the characters living a sad and lonely existence, but only the hardest hearts were unreconciled as the story concluded.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating

Beautifully written and read. I started listening to it two days ago and found it hard to stop. Leaves me feeling a profound sadness for each character and their struggles.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Really tried but couldn’t finish

I wanted to enjoy this book, while the story itself wasn’t so “bad” it was way too slow to keep my attention.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Most enjoyable audiobook!

Beautifully researched and written. Excellent narrators. Intimately explores slave life on a large plantation, starting in the late 18th century, and spanning over 30 years. Vivid character development of both the slaves and the landed gentry. The main protagonist is the son of landowner , who will inherit the estate (when he reaches maturity) according to his father 's will
. He is thoroughly despicable and the harm he brings to others is difficult to hear. You will enjoy this deeply moving book

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Fantastic audio book

Always knew which character was speaking by the fantastic readers. Made it so easy to listen to since always knew what was happening. Great story

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So good!

I felt like I knew the characters, loved this book! Couldn't wait to finish it.