Read the kitchen house by Kathleen Grissom Online


In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured sIn this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom’s debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds....

Title : the kitchen house
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 8092392
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 385 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

the kitchen house Reviews

  • Jeanette
    2019-02-24 14:00

    Kathleen Grissom had the raw materials for a rich and powerful historical novel. Her writing is good, if a little drawn out at times. She has an interesting angle with the orphaned Irish immigrant girl put to work among the slaves. So why did it fall short? I think Grissom slipped too easily into stereotypes and melodrama and never got out of that rut. When you have too many tragic or shocking things happen to too many characters, it becomes predictable and numbs the reader. I started losing track of what bad things had happened to which characters. I enjoyed the story well enough for what it was, but it didn't feel real to me. I should add that I read Alex Haley's Roots at the age of 17, which set my standards for authenticity in slave novels. No doubt this accounts in part for my lukewarm response to The Kitchen House. If you haven't set the bar quite that high, you may just love it. A lot of people have so far.

  • ♥ Marlene♥
    2019-03-01 17:53

    I had sorted this book as literature on my shelf well it is definitely not literature but more cheap sensational stuff based on stereotypes.While reading this book this is what I wrote:"I am not liking this book. It feels like the books I read when I was a teen and had nothing good to read. It is too much. Too much sorrow and everything goes wrong. Now she is going to make life changing decisions because of lack of communication. If there is something I dislike it is that in books.I meant by that that you know a woman could have had a great live, if not for a stupid misunderstanding. Like in the cheap harlequin?romance books (here in The Netherlands they were (are?) called bouquet reeks. I now discover that indeed the publisher is harlequin where they never understand each other and because of that make dumb decisions and when they finally get together they tell each other they loved each other from the start. After a while (65%) I decided to quit reading which is something I hardly ever do. I knew what was going to happen and I could not care less. So disappointing. Had this book on my wish list for ages. Well I never throw books away and i can't bookcross it because it is an ebook. So I will hit the delete book from device button. :)

  • Norma
    2019-02-19 16:54

    Absolutely wonderful narration!  This was definitely a winner for me because of its awesome narrators who made this such an entertaining and enjoyable read!  I must say this is the first audiobook that I have thoroughly enjoyed and was captivated from start to finish.THE KITCHEN HOUSE by KATHLEEN GRISSOM is a very touching, powerful, gripping, heart-wrenching, and a beautifully written Historical Fiction novel which is set on a plantation in the antebellum South that grabbed my listening ears right from the very first chapter.The novel was told in alternating perspectives of Lavinia and Belle with a different narrator for each voice.  I fell in love with these characters and empathized with them as they shared their stories of love, friendship, family, commitment, survival, and loss. I couldn’t help but be totally lost in this story as I found myself listening rather intently to all of their struggles and triumphs at THE KITCHEN HOUSE.  I could hear their joy and their sadness coming through so vividly which had me totally engaged in this story.KATHLEEN GRISSOM delivers a very descriptive and well-written novel here that I found was easy to follow along with the storyline and all the characters involved.  There is a lot happening throughout this story and I thought it was a fantastic account about this part of history.Would recommend!All of Brenda & my reviews can be found on our sister blog:http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...

  • Marleen
    2019-02-26 15:40

    What an amazing book! It deserves more than 5 stars. Truly, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up until the early hours of the morning because I had to finish this story. It’s been ages since I have been that engrossed in a book, or that affected by a story for that matter. There aren’t words to describe the emotions you feel while reading this. I have to give credit to the author’s wonderful talent for being able to render such an unvarnished, yet grippingly beautiful tale of life on a southern plantation in the late 18th century, and for using just the right amount of words and not overdo it on the descriptive, but instead keeping the pace of the story just so that it feels more like an action-packed thriller. The author so cleverly evokes the story's time and place, that the reader virtually feels present as the the tale unfolds. Truly, I felt like I had travelled in time and was living amongst these exquisitely developed characters. What I want to convey above all is that this is a splendid, thought-provoking and touching story of amazingly admirable people, who despite the tragedies that are happening in their lives, never lose heart. Oh, there’s a lot heart in this story and I will never forget Mama Mae and her family.I will certainly recommend this book to all those dear to me, because it is impossible not to be permanently touched by this novel.

  • Gloria Bernal
    2019-03-04 13:34

    An amazing first novel!Author Kathleen Grissom's debut novel about slavery in the South in the late 1700's, early 1800's is one of the best out this year. This thought-provoking look at life on a tobacco plantation in that era both shocks us and draws us into the souls of these compelling characters, the white owners, the black slaves, and the little white girl who is brought in as an indentured servant, with whom we "experience" her growth into womanhood. Totally believable and thoroughly researched I have not read a novel this compelling in some time. Told in the voice of two of the main characters, it is easy to keep up with the story line. Lavinia is the first voice, the main character, an Irish orphaned 7-year old girl brought in to live and work with the negroes in the Kitchen House. At that time the kitchens actually were commonly in a separate house away from the main house. When she is brought onto the plantation by the white owner, she does not remember the trauma that orphaned her on a shipful of Irish immigrants. She is shocked mute for some time. The black servants become her family. Belle, one of the black slaves, is the secondary narrator who becomes a mother-figure to Lavinia and her story is typical as to what mulatto (half-white, half-black) women had to deal with in that era, as white owners took advantage of black women who sired children as a result. Marshall, the white son of the owners, is a major character in this saga as well, and as a reader you will struggle with your feelings of heartbreak, pity and hatred for him as his character is formed throughout the novel. His story alone will keep you up nights reading long after you intended to. All of the characters are developed very well, you will not easily forget them. The historical background in Virginia of that era is depicted accurately. I found it interesting that laudanum was generally an accepted and casual source of "calming the nerves with the drops" as they were called, and opium addiction not un-common, even with the elite. Certainly hoping for a sequel from Ms. Grissom, I will be first in line. Do not miss this amazing work! Highly recommended. PS: Update October, 2012 Author Grissom has advised me she is working on a sequel to this - yay :)

  • Cathrine
    2019-03-15 15:46

    I really debated what rating to give this book. In terms of keeping me turning the pages, it was riveting, and I had a hard time putting it down. The story of Lavinia, the young Irish orphan who was raised by a family of plantation slaves, had me laughing and crying out loud at times. My main problem with the book, however, was that the author never seemed to go past the plot and what was happening to the characters externally. Because of this, they often came across as a little shallow and under developed. One of the most pivotal parts of the book, which I won't spoil with details, signals a huge defeat for Lavinia and also a huge change. But this is merely glossed over, and the lapse in Lavinia's judgement is quickly fixed and the change she had undergone is undone. This short season in her life wasn't given the weight it deserved. I felt like this sort of treatment of the characters somehow made the story seem more soap opera-like and a little flimsy. I should have been bawling by the end of the book, but I felt that I had lost touch with the characters and was just watching the plot play out its inevitable conclusion.I also had problems with the short, occasional chapters from Belle's point of view. Their only purpose was to fill in plot holes and let us know about things that Lavinia wasn't able to witness. They were too short and infrequent for me to ever connect with Belle as a narrator, and they just took me out of Lavinia's mind and then forced me back a few pages later, which was kind of jarring. As a sidenote, I'm thinking of campaigning for a ban on prologues. The prologue in this book was (as most prologues are) merely a gimmick to get us more excited about where the book would take us, since it starts off a little slow compared to how it ends. I think the moment highlighted in the prologue would have had so much more impact later in the book if I hadn't known it was coming.If my rating was based purely on entertainment, I would definitely give this 4 or 5 stars. Yes, it was a little soap opera-ish, but who doesn't enjoy a good soap every now and then? Call it a guilty pleasure.

  • Pamela Huxtable
    2019-03-05 11:57

    If books can be compared to movies, this is a Lifetime movie. Tragedy after tragedy occurs; we have unaknowledged illegitimate biracial children, sexual abuse of children,rape, sexual assault, drug use. And the author also puts in the particular tragedies of pre-Civil War Virginia, including abuse and murder of slaves, mistreatment of slaves, the breaking of families by slave owners, starvation and overworking of the slaves. Plus mental illness. Oh, there's incest, too. And did I mention spousal abuse?And all of this is with the peculiar feel of a Lifetime movie. The colors are too bright, scenes are just a bit too melodramatic, and the accents are just a bit off and you feel very uncomfortable about watching - or reading. Men are kind and good or they are absolute evil bastards. The black women are warm and accepting, the white women don't know what to do and retreat when confronted with difficulties.There is minimal description of the settings or characters, but an awful lot of information dumping on the reader, in a not very interesting way. 10 lbs. worth of plot in a 5 lb bag.

  • Jaline
    2019-02-26 15:49

    From the Author’s notes: The only time the work came to a standstill was when the characters took me to an event or a place where I had not yet done my research. I tried on a number of occasions to change some of the events (those that I found profoundly disturbing), but the story would stop when I did that, so I forged ahead to write what was revealed.Antebellum history has been covered numerous times and from numerous angles, just like WWI and WWII history. And yet, no matter how many times we hear these stories, there are always new ones to listen to and allow room for in our minds and hearts. Stories that people have passed on in their families for years, and stories that are documented in museums and libraries.The Kitchen House is one of those stories and I discovered many things I did not know within these pages, even though I have read many books on the time period over decades of reading. That is one facet where this book shines.Another bright facet is the writing itself. I could feel the heartbeat of this story through the writing, and that is a rare gift for this reader. The pace was crisp throughout; there were no lags and not one moment where I did not feel I was breathing the same air and feeling the same hot sun as the characters in this book.The characters are very real, and even when they made some bad choices I could see why and understand - even as I felt their pain and wished they could have foreseen what was ahead. The plot and story line were absorbing and it was hard to put this book down.The synopsis of this book is accurate, so if it appeals to you, you will love this book. There is far more in the book than the synopsis covers, of course, including some terrible tragedies but also some triumphant joys. This book takes place between the years of 1791 to 1810 in Virginia on a tobacco plantation near Williamsburg. No matter how we look at it, this was not an easy time for either people of color or for women. Even children did not have an easy time of it, regardless of their station in life.Parental responsibility for children was often handed off to tutors or to house servants. If one was fortunate, this worked out well. If not, the children suffered – usually silently for fear of worse consequences. Similarly, if field slaves had a good overseer, their lives were happier and more productive whereas a cruel and/or conniving overseer created misery and suffering. Abdication of the owners’ responsibility in favor of the overseer was common and again, complaints were dealt with harshly or ignored. In this story, we read about many of those possible scenarios and others that made me feel pure gratitude for the life I have now, in this time we live in, despite our own difficulties.I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys very well-written, and extensively well-researched historical fiction, particularly covering antebellum history and the lives and lifestyles of that time.

  • PorshaJo
    2019-03-18 12:49

    Stories set in the South during the time of slavery are always a difficult read. The Kitchen House is no exception. However, the story told here is not all tragedy. There is also hope, friendship, and love in this story.The Kitchen House is told from two points of view. Lavinia, a young Irish girl who is now an indentured servant, and Belle, a young black slave, who is half while. Lavinia, is seven years old, when she is orphaned when her parents die during passage by boat. The Captain, takes her to his plantation and house to pay off her parents debt. She is quite ill and is given to Belle to take care of and eventually work in the Kitchen House. Belle, is the illegitimate daughter of the Captain, and being half-black, is a slave who works in the Kitchen House. Most of the book is told from Lavinia's point of view, and Belle fills in the rest. It's good to hear from Belle's point of view as Lavinia is so young and clueless and sometimes dimwitted. Lavinia is taken in, arms wide open, by the "family" of slaves on the plantation and the Kitchen House. She is so young and shaken that she does not realize the difference between black and white in the South during this time. During the story, you see her grow into a young woman, eventually getting married and having a child of her own. Though, she is blind to the ways of some, and marries an absolute evil man. You see her grow and her thoughts change about her adopted family. You see the bond she has with them, especially Belle. You also see the consequences of keeping secrets or holding your anger. You see Belle, who is a strong woman, who wants and needs her free papers. Then she has a child, who she absolutely adores, but who is taken violently and heartlessly from her.The Kitchen House is a wonderful, powerful book. At times, I found Lavinia a bit annoying, wanting her to snap out of it, and face what is going on. But I forget that she is seven years old when this book starts. I loved all the characters in the book - Ben, Momma Mae, Belle, Papa George, and all the others. You know that any book about the South and slavery is going to contain such heartbreak, but this is what happened during those times. Love and compassion live in many, but there were so many more where evil lived and thrived in. I felt the end of the book went too quickly for me. I wanted more details, but it seemed so rushed. Some of these characters you see in the follow up to this one and I can't wait to jump in and read it.I listened to this one via audio. Two narrators, one for Lavinia and one for Belle. They both did a fabulous job and I loved this one even more due to the narration. A wonderful book and wonderful narration and a great book to get started with on audios.

  • Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
    2019-02-27 18:50

    I should have loved this; 1st novel, Canadian author, great reviews, southern historical fiction, I was stoked. Maybe that was my problem; overly high expectations the kiss of death. I'll attempt to explain why I rated it so low:• Boring protagonist; weepy, passive women just irritate me now. I used to be more tolerant; I’ll put this down to aging...• I read similar books when I was younger, nothing fresh here • It's a pager turner but the plot was pretty obvious; good story that I wish hadn't morphed into a period piece soap opera. Why did all the characters have to be either dastardly villains or faultless victims? It got wearisome. Was it necessary to have every conceivable tragedy happen? I swear, the author didn't miss a trick. Enough already, it all blurred into a watered-down morass of heartbreak & misfortune. Sometimes less is better, just saying• Not a single memorable passage or piece of dialog. Honest, I searched!• In all fairness, I’ve read a lot of great books lately, tough acts to follow. Plus I have a touch of the flu :)Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not a book snob - enjoy escapism. In fact if this had been sold with a chick-lit cover I might have rated it higher. It just really annoys me when melodrama is hyped as important historical literature, the subject matter deserved better than clichés.

  • Chrissie
    2019-02-27 13:39

    NO SPOILERS!!!On completion: Four stars! I know I really liked the book, but why, and what is it that prevents me from giving it five stars? You keep turning the pages, I kept wondering what is going to happen next? Yes, a lot does happen, and sometimes it does feel a bit melodramatic given all the shit that hits the fan. What happens does not feel impossible, but sometimes I found myself thinking that the Blacks absolutely never were as bad as the Whites. Let me say once again, the story does not feel unbelievable. The characters are nuanced; you come to understand the different individuals as having particular character traits and you understand why they make they make the bad choices they make.Everyone reviewing this book emphasizes the importance of the theme family plays in the book. I agree it is a major theme, but for me the central focus of the book was what the absence of family feels like. What are the consequences of loosing your family? Any cursory review of this book reveals that Lavinia, the white girl living as an indentured slave in a Virginian slave plantation is an orphan. I found it particularly eye-opening to see how she matures and how her life and her character were so closely influenced by her being an orphan. This theme of losing family was reiterated in other events too. I felt I left the book with a deepened knowledge of how it might feel to be an orphan. It is this that I most appreciated about the book. Lavinia's lack of security, her shyness, her entire way of being taught me a lot.Another central theme concerns the cruelty of the white masters' rape of black women. We have all read about this, but I believe this book brings it home with a punch. It is not just the physical act, but also the consequences, that are brought to life. I do not consider this a spoiler, it is pretty obvious this will occur given the subject matter of the book. By reading this book, you learn the true pain these women experienced.However, there are a number of things that bothered me about the book. As mentioned above, the black people really never did anything that was evil. They made mistakes, but you understood them. They clearly made fewer mistakes than their white counterparts. The reader does come to understand their misdeeds too. However, I felt that balance was a little bit lacking.I have a further complaint. It is with the author's note at the end of the novel. It made me uncomfortable. I didn't believe it. I wish she had not emphasized the veracity of this story. But overall, I couldn't put this book down. It very well portrayed the life on a Virginian tobacco plantation at the end of the 1700s and it offered interesting insights into how it might feel to be an orphan. ********************Through page 55: I thought this would be melodramatic. It isn't! I see this as reality. this is how life played out on Southern plantations in Virginia in the latter part of the 1700s. And now I finally understand who is who. I understand the inter-racial situation. Any reader cannot help but understand the tensions inherent to such a situation. As always in life, there are kind and evil people on both sides of the divide. Really, you do not want to put the book down. I know have my family charts drawn :0) It is just to read and enjoy. The author cleverly shows different perspectives by flipping between two narrators - Lavinia and Belle. ETA: Oh yum, Belle is making apple butter preserves. I have made that for my kids. Waste not, want not. I put all the bottles up in the cold attic. One day I found them up there eating apple butter with spoons, emptying bottle after bottle. Good stuff!*************************************Having so far only read 30 pages, this seems to be just exactly the kind of book I was looking for at this moment - something to sink into, a book that will carry me away into another world, time and place. A book that will draws me to the characters and their lives. I assume you you all know this is about a small, white Irish child, whose parents die on the boat over to America. It takes place at the end of the 1700s. The captain doesn't know what to do with this child. She is sick, no one would buy her, so the only option is to take her home with him and give her to his black slaves. She can help in the kitchen. I don't really know who is who yet, more than you do. I do know that this little girl is called Lavinia. I do know that there are kind, loving relationships in this "family" of black slaves. I am guessing this could be a rather melodramatic story, but certainly not stereotyped. It has been called the reverse "Gone with the Wind", in the white child is a slave. She has no higher standing than the slaves. Interesting premise. There is already clear foreshadowing..... The book starts at the end but then flashes back to the beginning, only I already have an idea about the ending! This doesn't bother me b/c I feel pretty darn sure the passage thorough the book will be pure escapism and a fun ride. And you know me...... the prose style is ever so important! I like it. Look at the following lines. Look at what they say about the individuals:Fanny hoped that the freckles across my nose would fill in to give my pale skin more color. (page 19)Fanny, a black child of the same age as Lavinia, was worried about Lavinia's pale white skin! Cute, don't you think?! The following is also cute. Lavinia is always sucking her thumb.....How could I fly with my thumb in my mouth? he wanted to know.... (page 20)Ben, a black, strapping youth of 18, voiced this. Ben gave Lavinia her first bird nest. Collecting abandoned bird nests became one of her favorite pastimes. She lined up that first one next to the homemade doll she received from Mama Mae. I know terrible things will happen, but I also know that this book will exhibit kindness and loving too.

  • Jenna
    2019-03-18 12:58

    Can you imagine being in such a frightful shock that you don’t know who you are or where you came from? Now imagine that scenario as an orphaned 7-year-old indentured servant, with an Irish accent unlike the thick southern one that you can barely understand that surrounds you. This is the terrifying realization for Lavinia, who was thrust to work the house kitchen with other slaves in the late 1700’s in Virginia. Feeling isolated and confused, her fellow slaves open their arms to this sad girl, when she is ready, and take her in as though she were one of their own.In time she comes to accept them, but she is constantly put in the middle of deciding to choose her new family and being indentured for the rest of her life or for education and freedom. One would think education and freedom, but with that come other costs. Once a free white woman she would not be able to share the family bond that she so cherished with her fellow slaves, at least not openly. I had a hard time putting this one down and its story has remained with me since finishing. The characters were so tangible for me that I honestly had the most realistic dream last night that I was there and I loved these people. I litereally felt like I was a part of the book, stuck in the pages and living the life of Lavinia. The characters had so much depth that they just took me along with them.The only downside for me was I had a hard time understanding one of the characters. He seemed to have been traumatized as a child but the situations surrounding him were not very clear nor were his motives. But I will say that it didn’t take away from the intensity of the book for me. I had absolutely no problems looking over this bit of confusion and just came up with my own ideas. This can be seen as a positive, however, because it intensified my engagement toward the book.I feel like I am better for having read this novel and that is pretty miraculous in itself. I highly recommend this exceptional book about love, acceptance, and loyalty. Yes, there was also deceit, hate, and fear, but that wasn’t the focus for me nor do I think that it was intended for that purpose. I feel the negativity in this story was strong in exposing how love conquers all the nasty emotions. This one softened that part of my heart that can sometimes become a bit hard and for that I am forever grateful for having read it.

  • Candi
    2019-02-24 17:34

    Set during the late 1700's, this was a very touching story about Lavinia, a young white girl who has tragically lost her family during a passage from Ireland to America, and her newly adopted family of slaves who all serve the ship's captain on his tobacco plantation. Working in the kitchen house, Lavinia forges a deep connection with Mama, Papa George, their children, Uncle, and Belle, the illegitimate daughter of the captain. As a young child, Lavinia recognizes no boundaries due to color; if she notes the constant injustices towards the slaves, she does so with confusion. She only truly perceives a division due to skin color while attending church services for the first time: "It was in that house of worship that I first was made aware of the clear distinction that was made between the races. The white members were seated at the front, while in the back of the building, standing room was reserved for the black servants." Regardless of this initial perception, Lavinia never truly grasps the full impact of this separation until long after it seems she perhaps should have done so. Maybe she could have made better choices and saved her family from such heartache if she could have used her knowledge to empower herself. But, then again, she is a product of the times as well - an orphaned child grown into an adult woman with her own restrictions due to her gender. I will not dwell on this too much, as I did find Lavinia to be a very caring person with a warm heart and only good intentions.I liked the way this novel alternated chapters between Lavinia's point of view and that of Belle's. Belle's chapters served to fill in some of the gaps left due to Lavinia's naiveté. Mama and Papa George were very endearing and I cared what happened to them and their family. A couple of the characters were predictably despicable. Many of the issues surrounding the institution of slavery are examined – including mistreatment, rape, separation of families, and death. Mental illness and its treatment as well as the effects of opium addictions are also touched upon. The one main problem that I had with this novel is the overwhelming amount of tragedies that seemed to occur one after the other. Initially, they were truly heartbreaking to read about. As the book continued, however, I began to feel that this was in a sense overdone - perhaps to the point of taking something away from the development of the plot. This was true right up to the end of the book forcing it, in my opinion, to end a bit too abruptly. Overall, The Kitchen House was a page-turner. The themes of family, love, and survival despite devastating hardships were compelling. It was definitely a worthy piece of historical fiction and solidly written for a debut novel. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-23 10:57

    I am surprised by all the 4 & 5 star reviews. While the book is somewhat interesting, it falls flat and reeks of melodrama. It's like the Days of our Lives in the 18th century. The book is very repetitious with tragedy and crisis--you become numb to it after awhile. And yes, the characters are very 2 dimensional. I can't believe that Marshall would just become wholly evil. I expected to see a more complex character than that. All the white women in the book are weak and subdued; the black women are resilient; the white men are either good, or evil--no grey in-between. The dual narrative is an obvious attempt by the author to show two racial perspectives from the time--but these narratives just become redundant, explaining what the other character already has. I found this to be a clumsy attempt to address white and black experience. Lavinia's narrative is overwrought and lengthy, while Belle only gets a couple pages of simple, unadorned text. As a result, yet again, the white voice is elevated above that of the black voice.I also felt the novel ended way too suddenly--it seemed like the author had a deadline to meet and just stopped writing. There was no real resolution and I was disappointed. Overall, this book is okay--but don't expect any depth or lasting impression.

  • Thing Two
    2019-03-17 12:58

    To quote one of my book club mates, "This is just about the worst book I've ever read." I was so happy she'd said this, because it's about the same reaction I had to the drivel this woman published - and, yet it's been recommended to me by no fewer than seven people! Ack! Kathleen Grissom started with a great story idea - bring to life the tales of children sold into slavery or indentured servitude in 18th century Virginia whose country of origin was not Africa. In the hands of a more experienced author, this might have been a fabulous book. However, Grissom falls back on cliche characterizations and overused storylines. I wondered if I wasn't just reading a modern day Harlequin romance.Terrible. Just terrible.

  • Barb
    2019-03-01 13:32

    My hat is off to Kathleen Grissom for creating such a wonderful and moving story. I recently read 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett which I also highly recommend. I think the two novels compliment each other very nicely. Lavinia, born in Ireland, is an indentured servant who comes to live at Tall Oaks tobacco plantation in southern Virginia in 1791. She is placed in the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter. Lavinia lives and works in the kitchen house along side the slaves on the plantation and forms a deep and loving bond with them, they become her family. This story is complicated and compelling with realistic characters and complex relationships. There is a richness in detail for the setting and the period. Grissom is able to paint a vivid picture of the love of a family and the joy in the simple things in life as well as the deeply moving sorrow that affected many of the characters in the book. I loved the two female protagonists, Lavinia and Belle, who narrate this story. They narrate in alternating chapters which has become a very popular technique for writers. I'm not always fond of it, I think it can often make a story feel awkward or disconnected. But I thought it was a clever technique for this story and it was well done. Grisson allows Lavinia to narrate the majority of the story with Belle's chapters being only a few pages in length. Lavinia's voice changes as she matures to adulthood and Belle is able to give the reader adult insight into relationships and the motivations behind other character's actions. Grissom does a good job of creating a realistic character in Marshall, one of the antagonists, whose behavior is often horrifying and despicable and other times tender and protective. I loved the gentle and caring male characters of Uncle Jacob, Papa George and Ben, who nicknames Lavinia 'little bird'. This is both a tender and horrifying depiction of a time when life was complicated and dangerous. I felt Lavina and Belle's fear as they navigated the obstacles of their daily life and struggled with who to trust and how to keep their secrets. This novel reminds me of 'March' by Geraldine Brooks which I would also recommend to readers. Part of that story takes place on a cotton plantation that employs freed slaves and there are similar relationships between the characters. It isn't often that I give a book five stars and I almost never find myself wanting to re-read a book but I find that both apply to this one. I think this would make an excellent book club choice. In my opinion 'The Help', 'March' and 'The Kitchen House' would all make excellent choices for book clubs. This is another first novel that feels like it's written by a seasoned author. I found the author's note describing how she came to write this book very interesting. And I enjoyed reading the conversation with the author included at the back of the book. I will be looking for Kathleen Grissom's next novel 'Crow Mary' and I hope she writes what happened after 'The Kitchen House'. If she does I will certainly read it.

  • Elyse
    2019-03-05 11:36

    While reading "The Kitchen House", I often thought, "this must be the years best SOAP OPERA HISTORICAL FICTION novel of the year". Do they give out such awards? lol Geeeeeee, you'd think the author could have had added a 'little' more drama to hold our interest?/! ha ha!But.....YES, I liked this book! (most of the characters were well developed for the story). Maybe--the character of Marshall could have been developed a little more from his childhood to his adulthood ----(however, I got the point of his complex-painful childhood and the way it played out as he aged). However, I 'do' think the book needed better editing. Did I read need to keep reading over and over the ongoing struggles page after page after page. (about the same topic)---when believe me---I got the PUNCH about 10 pages back? ----Yeah---I DID.....because I was 'suck-in' ---taking the ride--- I could not stop reading until I knew how it was all going to end.Guess that equals decent book?, ya think? (yes and no). In this cast---mostly YES! 4 stars --yep, First novel?/! Damn good job! I'm standing by my stars....*4* it is! :)elyse

  • Gary
    2019-03-16 17:54

    Not going to waste time on a long review on this one.....My review can be summed up in "one word."Ready for it? Waiting....waiting....drumroll.....please......My review for this book........ is...."horrible"By the end of this book I sooooooo wanted to put a few drops of laudanum in my drink, to take away the pain of it all!Don't waste your time on this poorly written..... predictable.... I only stuck with it due to being a bookclub selection.......

  • Daphne
    2019-03-07 19:01

    I received this book on the Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you Goodreads and Touchstone Fireside publishers. What a gift this book was. Not only did I LOVE the story, but I defy anyone to not care about these characters. From the beginning when you first meet seven year old Lavinia, an orphan first arriving in America from Ireland, all you want to do is hug her and find out where this story takes her. It is a story of the true meaning of family, sacrifice and loyalty. You will want to be a part of Mama Mae and Papa George's family. I was amazed at what a sweeping drama it was for only 365 pages. Kathleen Grissom packs a lot of punch into those pages. I encourage everyone to read this wonderful story and to be prepared to be touched by it as I was. FANTASTIC!

  • Poonam
    2019-03-14 15:41

    This is my Book Of the Month- August 2016, with GR group- Nothing But Reading Challenges- Category: Anything Goes BOMThis book was a challenging read for me because I found it overall distressing and depressing. It was fine at the start but around 30% of the book you realize that everything that happens in the story is SAD. After that every-time I kept this book aside, I had to force myself to pick this up again. Another issue I had is the balant infidelity and casual take on sex. This is a personal hang-up and to be frank, this is a good story.This is set in late 1700's and early 1800's in a tobacco plantation. There is slavery and heavy racism. People are treated like property and it was appalling. The story progresses from 2 different point of views- Belle a Kitchen worker- is a slave on the plantation and a small Irish kid Lavinia- who is bought into the plantation and is working with Belle in the Kitchen House.One thing the book does teach is that human beings are adaptable and adjust to any circumstance. "This world is not the only home. This world is for practice to get things right."I also loved how the innocent kids found pleasure even in dire situations.... But it was equally painful to see these kids grow-up and face difficult situations.Overall, I liked the story and the topic which it is based on.

  • Imani
    2019-03-10 14:32

    I was recommended this book by Goodreads cuz I loved ,and . There was a discrepancy between those books and this one though. THOSE books had not necessarily happy endings but at least they had hopeful endings. This one was just plain TRAGIC. I love my historical fiction novels and I KNOW most of history was sad, especially in the U.S. during slavery times, but I mean really???? Was all this misery really needed?!!! I'm not asking for flowers and sunshine and a Disney ending, but at least...don't take away from me one of the characters I had dearly attached to and DON'T make things all complicated and sad when you clearly show that things could have turned out happy but DIDN'T. Belle got on my nerves. I didn't even LIKE her. (view spoiler)[She became so stubborn about her love for Ben. She didn't even let him go when he got married! I'd normally say she deserved better, but she didn't. Not after she began her affair with Ben, and then Ben's wife knew about it and actually liked her anyways and they became friends. They were both ok with each other taking turns with the man. Ok. WTH. They should have had a 3sum night. I mean REALLY. It's also like she cared more about staying on the property and the physical house then about the lives of the ppl who loved her. She was so stubborn, someone died and all sorts of tragedy happened for her to be able to stay. Did she care? I'd like to say NO. Why? Because she got to live out the rest of her days on the property until she died and that was worth it to her. Right? :D(hide spoiler)] I liked everyone else. Except for that stupid Rankin and Marshall. Miss Martha I could have sympathy for. Lavinia very nearly followed in her tragic footsteps, and I almost started to get bitter with HER.... DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED on this I could rant forever. I'm so mad...and so annoyed with the ending I can't even cry in sympathy over (view spoiler)[Mama. While we're in spoiler mode lemme just say things could have taken a happy ending if the author had just let Lavinia marry that Will or whatever his name was. But noooooo; and Sukey?! And poor Jamie shouldn't have had to shoot his disgusting father. Lavinia should have done it a loooong time ago instead of cowering in fear. Or Belle even; Belle had the thought to do that at least but she never acted on it. Ughhh seriously... (hide spoiler)]I feel like this book could be assigned to a high school English class reading list, because they always chose the miserable books for us to read. I'm sure the people in charge of that list would be happy to add this one as well. <______< Goodreads, I never thought I'd say this, but you failed me here. :(["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Erin
    2019-03-18 16:02

    Where do I begin on this review?I read the author's note and interview immediately following the end of the book. In it she says that the "voices" she hears tell her "their story" and she writes it. She also said, "I tried on a number of occasions to change some of the events (those that I found profoundly disturbing), but the story would stop when I did that, so I forged ahead to write what was revealed."There are not many professions where one can openly claim to do what "the voices" tell them to do. In most cases I imagine that person would be recommended to seek psychiatric help and possible medication.An author of fiction is the creator of the characters, their actions, and the story itself. As such, she has complete control over the world she has created. When Kathleen Grissom says she must write according the voices she hears, I feel that it is an excuse for the disgusting attrocities she made up--whether implied in the story (like the Plantation Owner's 10 year-old son's repeated rapes from his tutor) or the more graphic actual occurances like the forced rape of slaves and other violence. Kathleen admitted that they were "profoundly disturbing" but tried to rationalize and justify those events as if she had no direction over it. The excuse especially bothered me.I felt this book was over-the-top and cliche in parts. It's been described as "'Gone with the Wind' turned upside down." I don't think the two should be compared. I liked the initial premise of the story and many of the characters, but it fell short in the end and left way too many loose ends, depressing cicumstances, and a lot of deaths. I will not read another book by this author.

  • DeAnna
    2019-02-19 12:51

    I adored this book. I didn't want to put it down and was excited every time I was able to pick it up. I got completely lost in the world of Lavinia. I fell in love with the characters. I can't wait to pick up the follow up book "Glory Over Everything". Highly recommend for those who are in the mood for historical fiction.

  • Tara
    2019-03-05 14:36

    The first 3/4th of the book was awesome. I loved the early story of Lavinia at the plantation and in Williamsburg. Later in the book the story has more downs than ups and can be somewhat depressing. Of course, I think the author does a great job with portraying the time period, although since Historical Fiction is not one of my favorite genres, I had a hard time with some of the character's choices (although I would think looking at the time period were realistic responses). Overall, it was a wonderful family saga. I do recommend reading the author's notes though. I really found it informative.

  • ♡ Kim ♡
    2019-03-12 13:49

    Loved it!

  • Erin Clemence
    2019-03-03 16:42

    “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom is a powerful and gripping story of racism, interracial love and affairs, and slavery in the 18th century southern United States. Fans of “The Help” will devour this commanding and passionate novel.In the late 18th century, a young, white orphan named Lavinia is sent to live on a Virginia plantation, being raised among the help and catering to the rich, white owners. Lavinia quickly adapts to this life, caring for the drug-addled plantation owners’ wife while playing with the black servants children. As Lavinia ages, she slowly begins to see the racial tensions and differences that exist. When she is forced to live in the “white world”, Lavinia struggles to adjust, as life in the “Kitchen House” among the slaves was all she ever knew. This novel is cleverly written, the characters well-developed, with powerful plot lines that will affect a reader, regardless of their skin colour. A gripping tale of humanity reeking of truth and realism, “The Kitchen House” is definitely a read that will stay with you. I always enjoy novels that will teach you something, and although this novel is obviously fiction, there is some truth in the plot. The author based it on maps she had found on her own Virginian plantation, and added some historical research in order to maximize its truth. The plot is full of drama, making this novel a very easy read (subject matter aside), with constant twists and turns. The novel was told from two perspectives (Lavinia, the orphan, and Belle, the half-White servant) which really helps a reader to see the story from both sides. The novel has difficult subject matter, and I wouldn’t exactly identify it as easy summer reading, but it will make you think and make you look differently at life as you live it now and as it was lived in the past. Definitely a challenging novel, but a powerful and entertaining one.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-23 16:48

    This book takes a familiar topic -- southern, slave-holding plantation in the pre-Civil War era -- and adds a few twists. The first element that makes this book different than others which describe the same era, is that one of the main characters here is an orphaned white child who becomes an indentured slave alongside the African-Americans at the plantation. The second unique element of this book is a feminist look at the lack of power and rights any women (slave or free) had to control her own circumstances in that era.While "The Kitchen House" tended toward the melodramatic, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Grissom thoroughly researched the time period and gives readers an engaging story of love, family bonds, forgiveness and redemption. I look forward to reading Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House, Grissom's upcoming book which can be read as a stand-alone, but picks up where The Kitchen House ends. 4 stars.

  • Jen
    2019-03-03 18:45

    This was a spectacular read for me. There are few novels that I become so immersed in and this was one of them. The story is about a white slave girl who becomes part of the slave family in the late 1700's. It's about her growing up in the conflicting white black world and her confusion being pulled into both. It's about the relationships and loyalty that develop and the tragedies that arise during this time. I love Grissom's style of writing - story is told by both Lavinia the white slave and Belle the black one. It was disturbing in the sense that slavery is, but also how women were perceived during this time period. A definite 5 from me - would not hesitate to recommend and place back on my to be re read shelf.

  • Jana
    2019-02-27 10:49

    I felt the story fell flat. Undeniably, several parts played to my emotions, as the main characters (slaves of a plantation and subservient women) were raped, murdered, emotionally harmed. However beyond these emotional ups and downs, the story didn't conclude much. (Perhaps that is an unfair criticism - as the lives of slaves were undoubtedly unsatisfying.) Also, the dual narration writing style seemed to be an effort to give a voice to two sides of the story - white and black - but I don't feel like it added much. Lavinia's narration (the white perspective) dominated the story, with an occasional sprinkling of Belle's perspective (the black kitchen slave). It seemed that often Belle was repeating facts or feelings that the reader had already gleaned from Lavinia.

  • Kermit
    2019-02-18 16:44

    I expected to love this book...through 300+ pages I waited to love this book.I don't love this book. It is a hot mess.Every possible mishap occurs for our not-remotely-plucky and utterly clueless Irish lass of a heroine, just to keep the plot plodding along. Her complete and utter inability to read a room or learn one darn thing about the time in which she is growing up is an obnoxious device to make the most insane things happen. Somehow they were not insane enough, though, because I guessed every major event. The only surprise was in the very end, when a certain character did NOT die.Some scenes are drawn out to the point of tedium; others, rushed through so quickly you have to double check what happened. It is aggravating when the pace is so stilted!This book has great reviews overall, but I HOT MESS.Nothing terribly inappropriate in the book. I THINK one child is being molested, maybe just physically abused, but the author never spells it out fully. Either she is being coy or I am obtuse. Either is possible.Edited to add: I just figured out this book is like a cleaner VC Andrews. A soap opera, or mainly one-dimensional dreck.