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Extended Audio Sample The Kitchen House Audiobook, by Kathleen Grissom Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.95 out of 53.95 out of 53.95 out of 53.95 out of 53.95 out of 5 3.95 (41 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: August 2010 ISBN: 9781455198993
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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.”

    AudioFile

  • “[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.”

    SoundCommentary.com

  • 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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Terry | 1/25/2014

    " A page-turning saga of life on a southern plantation under the helm of an evil master. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Williams | 1/19/2014

    " Overall a very good book. It drug a little in the middle, but my desire to find out what happened to the characters kept me going. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elisa | 1/15/2014

    " This is a great book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Molly | 1/15/2014

    " Great first novel by author. Liked the historical aspect. Finished it in 3 days, so it was a page turner "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alison | 1/2/2014

    " Good historical FICTION by a new author. An enjoyable read if you can separate sensationalist southern stereotypes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Petra | 12/7/2013

    " Couldn't put it down towards the end. I don't say that about just any book! Some disturbing events in the book for sure, but ultimately I'm glad I read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roxie Berkman | 12/3/2013

    " Great read. I was sorry to see it end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James Monge | 11/30/2013

    " Good story. Slows down a bit but worth the read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlotte Holmlund | 11/13/2013

    " A captivating read; disturbing at times but hard to put down. Would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen Schultz | 11/11/2013

    " I liked this book more for the plot and characters than for the writing style, which seemed a bit choppy and rushed toward the end. Nevertheless, I could hardly put it down! Great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 11/4/2013

    " This is the unusual story of an orphaned immigrant child living with slaves. The roles reverse and she becomes a member of the big house. An epic tale that keeps you reading to find out how it all tragically ends. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leigh | 6/3/2013

    " I might have given it 3.5. I thought the end was rushed for how much happened "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa Finley | 4/6/2013

    " Loved the characters! Such a great heart felt story line. I'm not one to usually enjoy a story set earlier in our history, but really loved this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina Boonkue | 12/6/2012

    " Book was great! Her details and as se writes drew me in greatly. However ending wasn't what I liked and didn't leave me satisfied. But, it's life. Nothing can end perfectly. A must-read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 11/30/2012

    " I felt that this story had so much potential, but I was disappointed by both its pace and lack of character development. They all just seemed so flat and stereotypical to me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren Ilteris | 11/10/2012

    " I found this one hard to get into, but enjoyed it once it got going. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kellibid | 11/1/2012

    " I did not like this book. The stereotypical characters made me nauseated at times. It was sensationalized and over-the-top. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dmehringer | 8/24/2012

    " A new look at life of slaves, plus an orphaned Irish girl, raised in the Kitchen House, but trained to live as a free white woman. Unique story, but told so slowly I almost gave up. Glad I stayed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cameron | 4/2/2012

    " 3.5 stars, while I could appreciate the subject matter, I just did not enjoy reading it all that much because it was SO depressing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dana Dinowitz | 2/5/2012

    " Loved it. Really felt for the characters "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashley | 10/2/2011

    " Great book! The miscommunication that was used to move most of the plot along was a bit annoying, though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindy Sullivan | 9/12/2011

    " A compelling story. It opened my eyes to a different world in a way, similar to the Help. It's a great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill Taylor | 7/1/2011

    " similar to The Help, not quite as well developed of a story though. The author did a lot of research to make the details of the story as authentic as she could. There is nothing pleasant about slavery, that is for sure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 5/23/2011

    " Thoroughly enjoyed this easily read historical fiction about the South in the late 1700's. "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." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Misty | 5/21/2011

    " So entertaining! I am not sure what the life lessons were or how realistic the plotline. I think they were all possible atrocities, but so much human folly in one family? But I enjoyed the drama so much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Toni | 5/20/2011

    " great book - a real pg turner. I found my self wanting to save everyone myself. Great historical fiction book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharnette | 5/19/2011

    " Didn't think I would like this book but ended up loving the story. Great example of the true meaning of family, love and loyalty. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tami | 5/19/2011

    " Highly highly recommend this book; fabulously written.
    I found myself caring for these fictional characters. They stayed with me long after I finished reading this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don | 5/17/2011

    " Different take on a oft-told southern pre-Civil War topic. We don't think a lot about the indentured servants and how a relationship could build with slaves. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee | 5/17/2011

    " Thoughtful story of race repression built into a suspenseful novel. Given the events, I thought the ending was a little too pat and that's the only reason for 4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mom | 5/17/2011

    " Very good book, but I was disappointed in the ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 5/17/2011

    " I enjoyed this book - not quite as good as The Help. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandra | 5/17/2011

    " Historical Fiction. Terrific Story!!!

    Still recommend it as a fabulous read.

    Great for a northern girl who had only a passing understanding of southern plantation life during slavery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Becky | 5/15/2011

    " Great book. An interesting perspective of life on a plantation and slavery. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 5/15/2011

    " Engrossing and fast paced story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 5/15/2011

    " Very interesting book that is another historical fiction piece- my new favorite genre. Tells the story of the slaves who live in the kitchen house, and their treatment by and interaction with the family in the big house. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Louise | 5/14/2011

    " Loved this book. Some great historical points about slavery times-shocking "

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About the Author
Author Kathleen GrissomBorn and raised in Saskatchewan, Kathleen Grissom is now happily rooted in south-side Virginia, where she and her husband live in the plantation tavern they renovated. She is the author of The Kitchen House and most recently Glory Over Everything.
About the Narrators

Orlagh Cassidy is an udiobook narrator who has twice won the prestigious Audie Award for best narration, as well as fifteen AudioFile Earphones Awards. She is a graduate of SUNY at Purchase and a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Scholarship. She has been seen on and off Broadway and in films, including Definitely Maybe and Calling It Quits. Her television credits include roles in Law & Order and Sex and the City and as Doris Wolfe on Guiding Light. She has done voice work for commercials in which she is probably best known for her role as the mom in the “BFF Jill” spots for AT&T.

Bahni Turpin has won seventeen AudioFile Earphones Awards and three prestigious Audie Awards for her audiobook narrations, and Publishers Weekly magazine named her Narrator of the Year for 2016. She is an ensemble member of the Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles. She has guest starred in many television series, including NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Six Feet Under, Cold Case, What about Brian, and The Comeback. Film credits include Brokedown Palace, Crossroads, and Daughters of the Dust. She is also a member of the recording cast of The Help, which won numerous awards.