RM Book Lounge – The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House is a gripping novel that pulled on my heart – I actually read it in one sitting (thank goodness I was on vacation)!  Kathleen Grissom writes of a young girl, Lavinia, caught between two worlds… As a white indentured servant on a southern plantation, Lavinia feels a deeper connection with the slaves working in the kitchen house, but realizes her race prevents her from “fully fitting in.” The story highlights the injustices of the time while also painting a beautiful picture of the love and devotion that existed there.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

“Lavinia, an orphaned seven-year-old white indentured servant, arrives in 1791 to work in the kitchen house at Tall Oaks, a Tidewater, Va., tobacco plantation owned by Capt. James Pyke. Belle, the captain’s illegitimate half-white daughter who runs the kitchen house, shares narration duties, and the two distinctly different voices chronicle a troublesome 20 years: Lavinia becomes close to the slaves working the kitchen house, but she can’t fully fit in because of her race.” - Publishers Weekly

“…the most poignant aspect of “The Kitchen House’’ lies in the characters’ narrative voices, which reveal the love, loyalty, and warmth in the slave quarters, in stark juxtaposition to the barren emotions of the white family that owns them.  As Shadek states, “while Grissom creates characters filled with good and evil, by the end of the novel, they are so fully real, and the reader will become so invested in their well being, that they will ache and cry for all of them.” -Nancy Harris, The Boston Globe
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Elysha Schickel

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