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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House
Author: Kathleen Grissom
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Release Date: May 7, 2010
Audiobook: 12 hours and 55 minutes
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin

Source: Purchased from
Buy the Book: Amazon
Book Description
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.
There are so many books featuring slave narratives and fictional historical accounts of the antebellum south that seem to glorify the slave owners and not really give it to you like it really was.  I mean think about Gone with the Wind.  Who do you remember from the story the most?  Who did you feel for the most?
In The Kitchen House an Irish child, Levinia is brought to a tobacco plantation to work as a slave to fulfill her indentured servitude.  She is put in the care of Belle, a house slave (fathered by the Master) where she learns the ways of the Big House.
This story brings into light the horrors of slavery, the fearful situation freedom might bring, addiction  and the emotional bonds that are created by non-blood related family members.  The families in the story are a mixture of children born of rape, motherless teenage girls, women who see their children die and/or taken from them, and the men that love them all.  I have to say, I love this story as a Black women because it shows the strength that African Americans had and still have.  Black folks have endured generations after generations of some of the deepest evil and hate but choose love and acceptances.  And like the relationship Mama and Papa have with Levinia, they choose to love her and accept her into their large family. 
As Levinia grows she slowly learns her place as a white women in the early 1800's.  I liked her character overall and thought she was well written but she did made me angry a few times.  There is a scene when she sees something (I won't say what it was) and then she just forgets and moves on with her life playing with the babies.  This situation happens more than once and I was angry at her for forgetting about it.  Anyways, I love all the characters that Kathleen Grissom wrote.  They were each unique and beautiful.
As for the narrators, they were both great.  I wish they eliminated the long pauses here and there but overall they were outstanding.  Having two women read the two perspectives was a great idea and gives the listener a better understanding of the story.
This was one of those audiobooks that had me glued to my seat in the parking lot listening before work.  I was hooked the minute I started until the very end.  Oh and what an ending it was! 
Reviews by Other Bloggers
I recommend this book to young adult readers and older.

This book is number 4 in my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
This book is number 14 in my Audiobook Reading Challenge
This book is number 18 in my Women's Reading Challenge
This book is number 28 in my Good Reads Reading Challenge

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