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The Kitchen House Paperback – 29 Aug 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552779121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552779128
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"I recommend the novel THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom. This novel, like THE HELP, does important work: it factors in the experience not only of African-Americans under enslavement, but of poor white Europeans, who, during the same period of American history, were often indentured." (Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple and Pulitzer Prize winner)

"The plantation's social order's emphasis on violence, love, power, and corruption provides a trove of tension and grit, while the many nefarious doings will keep readers hooked to the twisted, yet hopeful, conclusion." (Publishers Weekly)

"A heart-breaking novel set on a 1790s Virginia plantation. A page-turning romantic tragedy." (ASOS magazine, April 2013)

"A powerful, well written story that doesn't pull any punches." (Choice, April 2013)

"a potent picture of servant life in plantation America." (Sainsburys Magazine)

Book Description

A coming-of-age story set in 18th century Virginia, perfect for fans of The Help and The Postmistress.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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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By Thomas Pots TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( 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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