The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom.
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.
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Grissom's The Kitchen House is just the kind of historical fiction that I've always loved. To be honest, I would have never guessed that this was her first novel.
I found her characters to be complex and believable. The plot line kept me guessing a bit, but there weren't any ridiculous or forced plot twists that I've found in a few other recent reads that turn me off. It is clear that Grissom did her research in writing this novel.
The narrator of the novel alternates between two of the main character, Lavinia and Belle, with each chapter which I found quite interesting. Both characters are well-defined and offer a unique perspective on the overall story.
The ONLY thing that bothered me (just a little) about the novel, was that the dialect(s) were clear among the slave characters, however Lavinia's accent is completely absent...even though it is referenced early on in the novel that she can be hard to understand at times because her Irish dialect is so strong. Just seems like one detail that wasn't carried through considering the detail and consistency found in the rest of the novel.
Despite this, if you are a fan of historical fiction, I DO NOT think that you will be disappointed by The Kitchen House!! It's a great read!
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