Pamela Huxtable's Reviews > The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
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Jan 14, 12

bookshelves: historical-fiction, awesome-members-book-club
Recommended to Pamela by: Awesome members book club
Read from January 13 to 14, 2012

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.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Carol If you would read about this period in history you would find that all of these things did indeed happen. There were many black/white children of slaves that were fathered by white owners, there was lots of starvation and overworking of slaves, there was much abuse and murder of slaves and indentured servants, much mistreatment of slaves. Why is this such a surprise to you?


Pamela Huxtable Thank you for your comment, Carol. Indeed I have read about this period in history, both non fiction and historical fiction, and none of the events of The Kitchen House in themselves were a surprise.

What I found difficult about the novel was that there were so many tragic events heaped one on top of the other without any breathing space for the reader or even the characters. Without opportunity for reflection on the part of the reader, the impact of each following tragedy became less and less. By the time the novel climaxed, I was expecting the worst, which did happen. And I was sadly unaffected.

I wish it had been different for me. I am glad you enjoyed The Kitchen House. I was reading about the author and I see that she will be writing a sequel.


Carol Thanks for your response. I understand your feelings about this now. I originally thought you meant that it really didn't happen, but now realize that it was upsetting that it was so condensed into one novel without relief and agree that it was overwhelming at times, as it was to me. I hope we enjoy her sequel.


message 4: by Kathy (new) - added it

Kathy that bad, Pam?? Yikes:)


Pamela Huxtable I would not waste your time. There are so many wonderful books out there to read.


Traci Perfect comparison with your Lifetime movie analogy!


Stephanie You indeed many of us know those things did happen, but not in the stereotyped way the author wrote about them...These were characatures of people belonging to Walt Disney's Song of The South...


Megan Kinyon I am so glad to read other people felt about this as I did. I could hardly stand to read it after learning that another huge misunderstanding that could have easily been solved if characters that were close would just talk to each other was going to ruin another person's life. I had to skim to the end.


Ellen I thought this book had a lot of emotion, but it wasn't over the top. It did not turn into chick lit. She does not marry the nice farmer at the end - that would be chick lit. I think that it all that could have happened in real life. She could have tempered some of the tragic events with more happy events, but maybe that was the truth of Lavinia's life and times. I did not understand the Captain's wife's mental condition. How could someone live so out of it for so long?


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