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on July 25, 2016
I was captivated by this book. It was hard to read in parts because of the actions of some of the characters, but it exhibited the harsh realities of that era in US history. I became very connected with the characters in this book as the writer brought them to life. I recommend reading this book.
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on May 9, 2010
The Kitchen House was an absolutely wonderful reading experience.

What I liked best about this book were the characters. They became people I wanted to know. When something good happened I was happy for them and sad when a not-so-great event occurred. The author made fictional characters seem so real that they jumped off the page. More than once I was brought to tears and felt real sympathy for these people. Most of the characters were complex personalities dealing with complex problems. Though the main antagonist (and it could be argued just who the main antagonist is) is not likeable, the character was written with sympathy and while I did not excuse his behavior, I could easily understand the reasons behind his conduct.

The other great thing about The Kitchen House was the plot. My heart was pounding after reading the first page. I didn't know exactly what was going on but the small bit that I read gave me a powerful sense of fear, anxiety and curiosity. From there on, the story developed into the drama, hardship and joy a close-knit family experiences in the slave quarters of a large plantation. The story moved quickly and I was so engrossed I couldn't believe it when it ended. I still want to spend time with these people!

I loved The Kitchen House and wholeheartedly recommend it for book clubs - I think it would generate very lively discussions.
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on June 9, 2011
I couldn't put The Kitchen House down. It is a griping tale and would make a wonderful movie. I enjoyed the historical information and how well Kathleen Grissom takes the reader back into the eighteenth century. She paints such a graphic picture of the times and people you feel you have been there. If someone has read The Book of Negroes they will certainly also enjoy The Kitchen House.
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on May 3, 2016
The kitchen house is a beautifully written, powerful and moving novel. This emotional and heart-wrenching story is told from two viewpoints, Lavinia, an Irish indentured servant, and her adoptive mother, a black slave. The Kitchen House takes place in Virginia, on Tall Oaks Plantation, during the late1700s and early1800’s.

Lavinia was only seven-years-old when she was bought by Captain Pike. Her parents had died during the voyage to America from Ireland on one of his ships. Captain Pike placed the traumatized child in the care of his secret daughter, Belle, one of his Kitchen House black slaves. Lavinia quickly grew to love her new adopted family. It wasn’t until ten years later that she would realize what it truly meant to be owned, black, and working, in the fields of a rich man’s plantation.

Captain Pike, was not an evil slave master, but his overseer was. Captain Pike was rarely home, so he didn’t have a true picture of what was happening on his plantation. If he did, he would have stopped the inhuman treatment of his slaves by the overseer. And he certainly would have never allowed his son Marshall to be taken advantage of and abused by the tutor he hired. But Captain Pike wasn’t around, and these things did occur.

At age seventeen, Lavinia was freed from her indentured servanthood. She quickly married into the family and became the mistress of Tall Oaks Plantation. Her goal was to make a better life for the slaves. She had always treated them like family. Unfortunately, as a mistress, she was no longer permitted to treat black slaves as equals. Any kindnesses she showed towards them were swiftly met with a harsh beating from her husband. The slaves of Tall Oaks didn’t abandon Lavinia during this dark period of her life. They stood by her until she was no longer just a beaten down shell of a person.

The kitchen house is not for the faint-hearted. Each page is filled with raw emotion, as it portrays for the reader, a realistic view of slavery, in all of its hateful, brutal ugliness.
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on October 24, 2010
Enjoyed this book from start to finish. I became captivated with the residents of the "Kitchen House" and was touched by the love and loyalty they shared with each. The storyline (although sometimes tender and at other times, very harsh) moves along very effortlessly and the book held my interest to the extent that I could not put it down until the end. Thank you Kathleen Grissom.
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Every so often a book just reaches out and grabs you. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom was one of those books for me.

It's 1791. Lavinia is 7 yrs old and her entire family has perished on the boat from Ireland to America. The captain takes her to his own plantation as an indentured servant. She is sent to live with the slaves who run the kitchen house. Abinia, as she comes to be known, is welcomed into the hearts and homes of Mama Mae, her daughter Belle (who is the captain's illegitimate daughter) and their extended families. They love her as one of their own, despite the fact that she is white.

As Lavinia grows, she is taken to the big house to help with the captain's wife, who is battling an addiction to opium. It is here that Lavinia finally has to acknowledge the chasm between black and white, master and slave. And where her place is. As she grows older, circumstances conspire and she is forced to make difficult choices that have grievous repercussions. This is s a very bare bones synopsis as there is so much more to this book.

Grissom forced me to break one of my cardinal rules. I never, ever, read ahead in a book. I got so caught up in the story, the characters and the hurtling plot that I was reading way too fast to take it all in. I had to find out what happened, then go back and slowly take the journey to the event.

Grissom's descriptions of the settings, social life, characters and dialogue truly had them jumping off the page. Indeed, Grissom herself says that "For the most part, Lavinia and Belle dictated the story to me. From the beginning it became quite clear that if I tried to embellish or change their story, their narration would stop." I became invested in each and every character, loving some and hating others, but each evoking emotion is this reader.

The Kitchen House is told in alternating chapters from Lavinia and Belle's viewpoints The same event takes on very different hues when seen through another set of eyes.

Slavery is a main theme of the book. But slavery in many different forms - addictions, societal expectations and mores as well as racial. But so is strength, again in many forms.

I literally could not put The Kitchen House down. It's destined to be a keeper in my library.
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on October 24, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was a page turner from the beginning and tugged at heart strings in many places. The characters were real and, like any good story, you hated to leave them when the last page was read. I couldn't seem to stop reading late into the night with this novel! I highly recommend it.
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on March 20, 2012
This book was a very good read. The author writes with detail that has you imagining exactly how the characters look and feel throughout the entire book. She manages to bring out emotion in the way she describes situations and events that happen in this book. It is a real page turner with twists & turns.
This book brings up tough issues with perspective to shed light on the history in the south. Great read and would recommend this to anyone who isn't disturbed by the subject matter.
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on October 8, 2011
I chose to buy this book because I wanted to read something from an author I'd never heard of before. The subject matter was interesting and the book was well written. I did not give it 5 stars because the plot line was not original - I have read similar stories before and I found the story line was predictable. But having said that, if you want to sit and read a good book, this one will fit the bill, and I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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on September 20, 2011
I read a lot and maybe 4 books a year tend to stand out. The Kitchen House is one of my favorites this year. The author has a way of drawing the reader into the varied characters of the story. I think I might have enjoyed it even more than "The Help". Kitchen House is full of heart and a must read!
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