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Extended Audio Sample The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (50,946 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kathleen Grissom Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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"The Kitchen House" is a powerful debut novel that brings together two women whose lives become inextricably linked despite their diverse backgrounds and equally different futures.

Lavinia first steps foot in Virginia as a 7-years-old orphan and becomes an indentured servant to white plantation owners. The year is 1791, and her upbringing is in the care of Belle, a slave woman whose future is not nearly as bright as that of the white, Irish immigrant child in her care.

Nevertheless, the two form a bond, becoming almost family as they go through their lives, performing the duties of enslaved women in the antebellum South. Lavinia becomes attached not only to Belle, but to other black characters around her from whom she develops a sense of belonging.

Even so, Lavinia is white. She eventually is accepted into the white world around her, having survived the perils of living under a harsh and cruel master. Despite being the illegitimate daughter of that same master, Belle can never belong.

Lavinia is caught up in the tug-of-war thrust upon her by the institution of slavery, and her loyalties are torn between two worlds. She has decisions to make.

Grissom's characters are intricately developed, each having a unique and believable voice. The setting is one with which she is intimately familiar and is able to convey convincingly to her listeners.

A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, author Kathleen Grissom now lives in southern Virginia. She uses the experience she gained as she and her husband restored a Virginia plantation building to create an authentic, compelling, and richly detailed account of 18th and 19th-century plantation life in the South.

The two narrators of "The Kitchen" work well together, and have garnered much praise for their work as narrators of other popular audiobooks such as "The Help."

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 a ship from Ireland to America, 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 an 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Kathleen Grissom peers into the plantation romance through the eyes of a white indentured servant inhabiting the limbo land between slavery and freedom, providing a tale that provokes new empathy for all working and longing in The Kitchen House.”

    Alice Randall, New York Times bestselling author of The Wind Done Gone 

  • “You will be thrilled by this intimate and surprising story that connects us with an unexpected corner of our history. Kathleen Grissom gives us a new and unforgettable perspective on slavery and families and human ties in the Old South, exploring the deepest mysteries of the past that help define who we are to this day.”

    Robert Morgan,  New York Times bestselling author of Gap Creek

  • “Forget Gone with the Wind. Belle and Lavinia, the heroines in this novel, will make Scarlett seem like a wimp in comparison. Together they narrate a story that grabs the reader and demands to be devoured. Wow.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “[Grissom’s] debut twists the conventions of the antebellum novel…Provides a trove of tension and grit, while the many nefarious doings will keep readers hooked to the twisted, yet hopeful, conclusion.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Orlagh Cassidy narrates the majority of the book from the perspective of Lavinia…Cassidy’s ability to sound just as believable as a seven-year-old as she does as a woman in her twenties is impressive and serves the story well. Bahni Turpin also contributes to the narration as Belle, a slave who essentially adopts Lavinia. Cassidy and Turpin, along with Grissom’s fascinating historical details, make this a story not to be missed.”


  • “[A] pulse-quickening debut…The stage is set for a breathless but excruciatingly attenuated denouement…The author manages to avoid stereotypes while maintaining a brisk pace.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Cassidy and Turpin’s dual narration deserves special praise. Cassidy provides the prim enunciation fitting to one set of characters, and Turpin’s passionate rendering of African-American dialect is a delight for any listener. This is a sensitive audio treatment of an excellent novel.”


  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A BuzzFeed Books Pick of 31 Books You Need to Bring to the Beach This Summer

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Meg Schneeman | 2/12/2014

    " A little racy at times (due to the time period and subject matter), but couldn't put it down. A coworker recommended this book to me less than two weeks ago. In the midst of end of the trimester stress and two kid stress and husband out of town stress, I finished it incredibly quickly. You will fall in love with the characters and root for them from start to finish! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Leslie | 2/8/2014

    " This book was fantastic. I would actually give this closer to 4.5 stars. The only thing I didn't like was that it needed just a couple more paragraphs to tie things up. There needed to be some closure. Wonderful portrayal of a disturbing time in history. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Stacy | 1/31/2014

    " A friend gave me this book as she knows I love a good historical based fiction drama. This book fit that need and took me on many unexpected twists/turns. Overall this book would be a great book club choice as it would lend to lots of conversation elements. I hope they make it into a movie as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Katie Wahlquist | 1/27/2014

    " This is kind of "Days of Our Lives" on a tobacco plantation in the 1700's. I really couldn't put it down, but it was graphic and semi disturbing for the most part. It does raise some interesting themes, but for the most part is a tragic and depressing story. In no way am I trying to sound trite or funny when I say that slavery was no picnic. Oy. I might give it 3.5 stars. "

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