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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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating read!

This was a great book. . .well written, timely and very graphic, without being crude. The readers were exceptional. There were so many characters, at times I got overwhelmed, but the readers were authentic and their realistic voices helped me move forward with greater understanding. At times I was even brought to tears; the cruelty of people is surprising. I'm so glad I read this book. It's given me much deeper appreciation for people who struggled during the late 18th century. A must read for anyone who likes historical fiction at its best.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Superb narration

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating story

I can envision a movie more epic than our beloved Gone With The Wind. This story kept me captivated and interested to see what would come next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Sad story of the South

Heart breakingly true to what I have read of slavery and plantation life. I will not soon forget this story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Powerful

This is another of my MUST read and listen , I enjoyed this one so much! Not only a great story line and well written characters but an incredibly well done for the audible work. A time in our American history that should never be forgotten. When I find an audible I like I will look for the ' voice or voices of the book again . #sadeyes,#feelgood,#quirky family #Tagsgiving

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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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  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful