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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, powerful and emotional
Set in the 1700′s, The Kitchen House tells the story of Lavinia, a young Irish orphan girl who is transported to Virginia and finds herself working as a servant in the kitchens of a wealthy plantation owner, amongst the slaves that work there already.

The story is told in the narrative of Lavinia, and also from Belle's viewpoint, a member of the kitchen...
Published 19 months ago by Megan ReadingInTheSunshine

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So much promise but left wanting more
The book is about slavery - a white Irish girl set to work within a group of black slaves, working on a plantation in the Deep South USA.

The story is told by two girls; Lavinia, white irish and Belle, mixed race child of the master of the plantation. Each tells the story in alternate chapters, I really like this style of book and was able to understand more...
Published 11 months ago by S. A. Broadhurst


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, powerful and emotional, 14 Mar 2013
By 
Megan ReadingInTheSunshine (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Kitchen House (Hardcover)
Set in the 1700′s, The Kitchen House tells the story of Lavinia, a young Irish orphan girl who is transported to Virginia and finds herself working as a servant in the kitchens of a wealthy plantation owner, amongst the slaves that work there already.

The story is told in the narrative of Lavinia, and also from Belle's viewpoint, a member of the kitchen family. We follow Lavinia as she adjusts to life as a servant, forms bonds with the other slaves she works with and grows up with the prospect of a better life and future as a white woman. This is a huge contrast to the life of Belle, as her fortunes move in a very different way.

Wow. This is not an easy read at times, as in the story Belle enlightens the reader to the harsh reality of what life was like for a slave in that time period - such as being subjected to horrific things such as rape and violence, as well as the constraints of society. But it is a very powerful book, both tragic and moving.

The characters are very well-drawn, the kitchen family and Lavinia in particular come to life in this story. As a reader I was drawn to them and I felt for them whilst reading about their daily lives and the hardships that they went through.

I liked that The Kitchen House had underlying topics such as the importance of family, what it means to be a family, and love. The kitchen family took Lavinia in when she arrived traumatized at the plantation, they taught her and she grew to think of them as her family.

The Kitchen House is a compelling and powerful book, but is very emotional too. There are some desperately sad moments that will break your heart, and moments that will have you rooting for the kitchen family and Lavina. I have never read anything like The Kitchen House before, but I was gripped, I cared very much for the kitchen family and I always wanted to read on. I would thoroughly recommend this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So much promise but left wanting more, 20 Nov 2013
By 
S. A. Broadhurst "SBroadhurst" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Kitchen House (Hardcover)
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The book is about slavery - a white Irish girl set to work within a group of black slaves, working on a plantation in the Deep South USA.

The story is told by two girls; Lavinia, white irish and Belle, mixed race child of the master of the plantation. Each tells the story in alternate chapters, I really like this style of book and was able to understand more about the issues caused by the slavery. I also believe that the author undertook a large amount of research before starting this book, which shows through clearly throughout the book. This is another book which could be used by history students learning about this historical time.
I really did enjoy the book and was one which I couldn't put down but at the end I felt something was missing, the story felt unfinished in some way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable story, 26 Mar 2014
By 
H. Ashford "hashford" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Kitchen House (Hardcover)
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This is the story of Lavinia ("Abinia") a young white Irish girl arriving in Virginia towards the end of the 18th century. Lavinia's story begins with tradegy; her parents have died on the crossing and to cover their debts she is indentured as a servant to the wealthy shipping line owner. On arrival she is sent to the kitchen house where she works and lives alongside the black slaves and comes to regard them as her family.

As a small child she sees no important differences between herself and her black "family". As she matures towards adulthood, however, it becomes clear that her future must take her along different paths from theirs. Increasingly alone and without anyone to advise her, Lavinia makes a number of poor decisions that eventually end in tragedy.

Firstly I want to say that I was enthralled by this book. I was reluctant to put it down and thought about the characters during the day when I was away from it. To me this is what I (personally) need to rate a book as good - and for this reason I have given it 5*s. I think for a first novel, this is a fantastic achievement from Grissom. The writing is confident, the book is well constructed, the story flows well, the characters are believable - you can almost feel as if you are there.

On the down side, the plot is rather predictable, and there is a horrible inevitability to the bad decisions Lavinia makes that lead inexorably to the destruction of a lot of what she holds dear. At times I had to suspend credibility (and supress irritation) as yet again she determinedly closed her eyes to reality, and I found it hard to accept that not a single white person among all the people that she meets in Williamsburg is able or willing to look at her situation clearly and give her sensible and impartial advice.

Will this appeal to fans of The Help? Yes I think so, though it is a very different book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surely a Classic, 2 Feb 2014
By 
Thomas Pots "T Pots" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Kitchen House (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It is 1790. A white Irish girl, Lavinia, finds herself living among black slaves in Virginia. Thus begins a story of hardship and misery heaped upon the girl, lifted in turns by the comfort of affection and care. It could have been a pot-boiler in the wrong hands, but Grissom handles the plot with tremendous skill, and she delivers a wonderfully powerful novel.

The gruesome treatment meted out to slaves, from beatings to rape and murder, are tough to read, though it is well-known that such things were commonplace at the time. Yet these are thankfully the darkest portions; much of the story examines the daily lives of the characters – all of them well-drawn and with a trueness about them that pulls you into their world. It’s an unusual book, to be sure, but one that is a cinch to recommend. In terms of story-telling power, it is streets ahead of most of what’s out there today. I've never understood what makes a novel a "classic", but this one surely qualifies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, 18 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Kitchen House (Paperback)
I was deeply moved, horrified and gripped by this story. A world that is so removed from ours but existed all over- the voices are real and the story facinating. Read it and learn about a world of suffering, of selfless love and endurance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Audio Book!, 12 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Kitchen House (Audio CD)
The Kitchen House
By Kathleen Grissom

Blackstone Audio, Inc.; MP3CD Unabridged edition (May 8, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1441761276
A Book Review By, Ginger Dawn Harman

I borrowed this audio version of The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom from my local library after a book club member insisted that I listen to this novel. Books on CD are a must for me while organizing, pulling weeds in the garden or performing other quiet household tasks. After waiting several weeks for my turn on the list, I finally was able to enjoy the book. Kathleen Grissom has written a heart capturing novel of the human condition on slavery without trying to reassure you that it will all be all right. The story started off strong and grabbed my interest right from the beginning. The imagery of a Tidewater, Virginia tobacco plantation named Tall Oaks and owned by Capt. James Pyke, was rich in detail.

I had an immediate connection with the character Lavinia, who is Irish and almost seven. She is brought to the kitchen house by the Captain as an indentured servant. There she meets Mama Mae and Papa, the matriarch and patriarch of the house slaves. Lavinia soon meets the captain’s second wife, Martha, and their two children, Marshall and Sally. The story at this point begins to form with class differences, betrayal, scandal, and personal redemption. Kathleen Grissom is very talented with her emotional connections with the reader. I as a reader experienced the early sickness of Lavinia, an apprehension of Rankin, jealousy between the women, and the horrid discovery of who is hanging in the tree at the end of the novel. I was very touched during the scenes that Lavinia had with Martha in the “mad yard.” Additionally I was affected, when Lavinia had a moment of insight as she stated, “I wondered why Marshall did not at least attempt a kiss. In many ways, his treatment of me reminded me of the way I had behaved toward the doll that Mamma Mae had given me as a child. I favored it so that I had refused myself of the joy of playing with it, daring to love it only with my eyes. But in doing so, I had denied myself its very purpose.”

Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin exemplify what makes a great audio book. It is for their narration of The Kitchen House that I have made this a five star instead of a four star book. Both have an authentic accent which adds to the historical era of this novel. A good accent is important because it pulls you even further into the story, adding dimension to both character and setting. Furthermore, there were no irregular gaps in time between sentences or chapters. Both readers were also masters at gender and age voicing. Several times throughout the recording were the voices of Marshall, Papa, Ben, and several younger children. To pull this off with plausibility and convey the words in an emotional balanced way is pure talent.

I was disappointed with how the story did not bring any closure to the Madden Family, I wanted to know what happens to them and I wonder if this might come about in a sequel or another novel by the author. Moreover, I was flabbergasted that this was a debut novel. I look forward to what the author will be writing next and will purchase her next novel. I can understand now why there is a wait list at our library for others to listen. I highly recommend the audio version of The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!, 10 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Kitchen House (Paperback)
I highly recommend reading this book particularly if you enjoyed reading the help and other similar books set in the Deep South of America.
It is written in the point of view of two of the main characters.It gives you a clear and brutal understanding of the pain and suffering that went on in most plantations.
The characters are real,and it takes you to a place that you can never imagine having to grow up in.
This book captured me and each night I found myself reading until the early hours.
I hope Kathleen Grissom writes enough book soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The kitchen house, 8 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Kitchen House (Kindle Edition)
A very good read- a kind of poor man's Gone with the wind.
Masses of detail and some interesting facts and then a very abrupt ending which left me feeling as if the writer had run out of paper! Or time!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thw Kitchen House, 25 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Kitchen House (Paperback)
39. The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom - The story revolves around slavery in the States and indentured workers. The cruelty endured and the love of the slaves for some of their masters - so prepared to accept so little. As a 7 year old, Lavinia is orphaned on board ship sailing to the States from IReland with her family to find a better life. As an Irish person of no status she is taken as a slave and given to the slaves in the kitchen house to look after. Bella [the plantation owners illegitimate daughter by a previous slave], takes Lavinia under her wing. This is Lavinia's story as well as Bella's who has to watch her half siblings being treated like royalty while she endures harsh treatment when her father dies. Moving, extremely sad and hopeless at time, somehow Grissom does find a way to end with hope but what a life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kitchen House, 19 Aug 2010
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This review is from: The Kitchen House (Paperback)
A really gripping story of slavery, abuse by the landowners and intricate family linkage, revenge and inhumanity. The script is easy to read and easy to follow unlike some similar stories and you really get involved with the characters.
A great read.
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The Kitchen House
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
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