The Kitchen House Hardcover – 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great read of plantation life stories. Enjoyed it so much I read the sequel right after.Published 26 days ago by Ginger McClelland
Though this was a tragic story of slavery at its worst, it was balanced by the loyalty and love of unforgettable characters that will live with me. Read morePublished 3 months ago by alwayscurious
I bought this one because a friend of mine in Saskatchewan told me I should try it. I'm originally from Saskatchewan as well and like to support local authors. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Really good book and shows how very much not everyone knows or shows racismPublished 5 months ago by Josephine
I couldn't put this book down! I immediately became attached to each of the characters in their uniqueness and the villains of the story continued to repulse me and keep me... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kerrie Schwandt