"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. Download and start listening now!