Friday, August 5, 2011

The Kitchen House- Review

Title:  The Kitchen House
Author:  Kathleen Grissom
Publisher:  Touchstone

Goodreads Summary:

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 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. 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 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.

My thoughts:

I couldn't put this book down, even though I pretty much cried my way through it.  The story was written from a unique perspective of an Irish indentured servant, Lavinia, who is raised by the Kitchen House slaves on a large plantation.  Her family consists of Belle, who is also the illegitimate daughter of the Captain; Mama Mae, Papa George, Uncle Jacob, Ben, the twins Franny and Beatie, and Sukey.  She had others in her kitchen house family, but these were the ones I felt were nearest and dearest to her heart.  Lavinia thinks and love like a child her whole life, always believing in the goodness of people and not seeing the bad, although she is frightened of her own shadow much of the time as well.  She is a gentle, naive girl, who grows into a gentle, naive woman, who has love for everyone.  She is unaware of the dark deeds that are perpetrated on her family, as they are hidden and kept from her.  Lavinia doesn't seem to really fit in totally anywhere, with her kitchen family or the master's family, separated from one life by color, and the other by class and situation in life, although she develops close relationships with them all, in her Lavinia way.  Her trusting, childlike demeanor leads her down a dark road that you want to stop her from heading down, but you know there is nothing you can do, and that it is all downhill from there.

Marshall is the Captain's son- I had the hardest time with Marshall, struggling with how I felt about him.  He is sympathetic yet a villain.  Events in his past have shaped him, and most of the time he is a terrible person, that you hate and abhorr.  But then there are glimmers where you believe he can be good, although these glimmers are short lived for in the next second he does something foul again.  

I really do not want to discuss this book too in detail, as I don't want to ruin it, so I am just going to say this book, although a tear jerker, was a book about love at its core.  The kitchen house family loves each other deeply and with great loyalty, and you will love them too.

Personal friends who might like this book- Jennifer H., mom

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