The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House

A Novel

eBook - 2010
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In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.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.
Publisher: 2010
ISBN: 9781439160121
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Mar 14, 2019

Great author

Aug 18, 2018

Understanding the history and period of the time, I’d consider it a realistic account of what it meant to be a slave. It embarrassed me as a white person of the horrendous and appalling conditions a black person had to endure. It is still unthinkable because of the color of your skin, or what
g-d your pray to can really matter. Any human life matters.

ArapahoeJillK Jul 09, 2018

This story relates the joy, sorrow, character, and unalterable roles given to those living on a Southern plantation in the late 1700's. Told particularly from the perspective of Lavinia, a young white girl indentured to the Captain and owner of the plantation, and Belle, his black illegitimate daughter. The novel captures the feelings of helplessness that all living on the plantation experience at the hands of entitled white men.

Mar 30, 2018

Absolutely mesmerizing read....Lavinia a young and white 7 year old orphaned...ship"s
captain James Pyke takes her to his plantation to work as an indentured servant in a kitchen
house of a tobacco plantation...all hell breaks loose when racial tension, family misunderstanding, lynching, rape, arson and murder are inevitable at Tall Oaks Plantation...
reading the sequel Glory over Everything

May 03, 2017

Beautifully narrated and touching story which has a true base in the history of slavery.
Even though it's drama, you get to make deep connection with these families of slaves who have meaningful and deep relationship among them and the compassion among them is admirable.

Oct 18, 2016

Having the story told by two voices makes this novel much stronger. Lavinia is 7 when she comes to the plantation as a white indentured servant with, at first, no memory of her parents' death on the trip from Ireland. Belle is a young mulatto slave, daughter of the plantation's owner, given charge over the child, to care for her and teach her to be a house servant. Lavinia comes to love the people she lives among, calling them "my family." The feeling is mutual. Mostly, the characters are very well rounded--I'd say the major exception is the overseer. On the other hand, much of what we know historically of how overseers treated slaves is exactly like this man treated the people he had power over. For me, the ending, the last few paragraphs, was a bit abrupt. I'd read the sequel first, which may be the reason for this reaction on my part. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the fast paced book, and look forward to what I suspect will be a third in the series.

Sep 11, 2016

I've read many similar tales, but without the indentured servant twist. Never the less, I liked it very much. It did not gloss over major problems, but rather treated them gently enough so that I was able to continue reading. Too often the graphic horror of a situation is enough to make me unable to keep on, so this was well handled, in my opinion. Well developed characters, and an interesting take on drug use.

Jul 29, 2016

Great book, I really enjoyed it!

Jul 10, 2016

I am a bit bothered by the book's melodrama and stereotypes, which kept it from being a great book. Characters lack a lot of depth, and most were either completely good or completely bad. One of the main antagonists was a character who seemed so bi-polar, but the author didn't really delve into why he was that way.

With that said, it was an easy book to pick up, with a writing style that flowed, and I enjoyed spending time with those characters who were generally pretty pleasant (I mean....who wouldn't??)

I just felt it's a story with a lot of potential had it not been so "white-washed."

I just learned there is a related novel put out--"Glory Over Everything." I do think I may try it to see if the author has developed the characters any further.

Jul 09, 2016

Good read! Interesting to learn about how life was back then, in that situation.

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Oct 10, 2013

Historical fiction depicting the lives of slaves in the pre-Civil War South, and the life of a woman who arrives in the U.S. from Ireland as an indentured servant and grows up to become the mistress of the plantation where she first arrived as an indentured servant.

Sep 18, 2011

Main characters Lavinia, Belle, Mama Mae, Papa, Marshall, Rankin.
A page turner, like a British Victorian novel, captures voice of the times, good on black dialect, insights into situation of slaves vis-a-vis the white masters, sex relations, & on plight of indentured Irish.


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Jul 24, 2014


mrsgail5756 May 29, 2013

“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” –John F Kennedy


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Dec 31, 2014

ironbed9 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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