Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Title: Kitchen House
Author: Kathleen Grissom
Publisher: Touchstone
Date of Publication: February, 2010
ISBN-10: 1439153663
Pages: 384 pages
Format: Kindle Edition
 
Synopsis from Goodreads.com: When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
 
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
 
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
 
The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.
 
Related Media:
 
 
Interview with the Author:
 
 
You can learn more about Kathleen Grissom on her official website.

My Review:

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom was selected by my book group, Books & Babble for our April discussion. We met last week to discuss the book. The Kitchen House is the story of life on a southern Plantation in the 1780’s. The story is told by alternating narrators, Ladvinia and Belle. Belle is a slave on the plantation who is also the daughter of the Captain. Ladvinia is a young Irish girl who comes to the plantation at the age of 7 when the Captain purchases her as on indentured servant. Having two narrators worked with this story as Ladvinia’s observations of events were usually immature and na├»ve. Belle, was wise and understood life on the Plantation in a way that Ladvinia did not grasp.

There are many themes within The Kitchen House such as the theme of history repeating itself and effects of isolation on the people of the plantation. The other theme all too common in this dark time of history is the disregard of the person of color as anything more than an object, owned by their masters. I am always bothered by how any human being can treat other human being so brutally. I am truly appalled by this time in our nation’s history.

One member of my book group shared that her relative was an indenture servant as a small child, coming to the Midwest on the Orphan train from New York. It was very interesting to hear about this and luckily the small child was treated very well and loved. I hope our nation takes the time to learn from it’s history and not repeat it. But then again don’t get me started on how our nation treats the less fortunate. I am a social worker so I do have a bit of an opinion on the subject. I won’t use this platform for a political rant.

The flow of The Kitchen House is very smooth, even with the transition between the two narrators. The book was very engaging and kept my attention. It had me gasping out loud at points and as well as cheering for a revolution. I found myself sneaking off to read a few more pages whenever I could.

The characters are well developed. You hate the bad characters and love the good ones. It seems like in The Kitchen House you were either good or bad, there was little in between. I loved Belle, her strength and wisdom are evident throughout the book. I also loved the fact that she loved her son with all her heart despite the events that lead to his conception. Mama and Papa were wise and honest slaves that loved Ladvinia as their own. They protected her, the best they could even when her own actions put them in harm’s way. I loved Will and his treatment of the workers and the way he ran the plantation with compassion and efficiently.

I was sad for the Kitchen House to end; I wanted to know what happened next to the characters I started to care so much about.

My Rating: 4/5 – very good book – highly recommend.

Other Bloggers Reviews:

BookNAround - my friend Kristen

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

The Sweet Escape

Confessions of a Bibliophile

The Literate Housewife

 

Happy Reading!
 

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