Rebecca's Reviews > The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
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Aug 11, 12


I devoured Kathleen Grissom’s historical fiction novel, The Kitchen House, in record time. The story opens with 7-year-old Lavinia arriving on a Virginia tobacco plantation, after being orphaned on the boat from Ireland and deemed an indentured servant by the ship’s captain. Severely ill and suffering from amnesia, Lavinia is taken in, cared for, and loved by a family of black slaves, including the captain’s illegitimate daughter, Belle.

The novel takes place over twenty years and is narrated in alternate voices by Lavinia and Belle, as they navigate the waters of being powerless women in a society stacked against them. Belle’s story almost seemed too short, and at times I found Lavinia’s character, in particular, difficult to read. Although she is admittedly naïve, there are times she just seems to cognitively deficient about the realities of her own life, as well as the lives of the people she loves. Still, I was captivated by this book for several gripping hours; but as they say, all good things must come to an end.
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