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The Kitchen House

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  242,302 ratings  ·  18,777 reviews
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, t ...more
Paperback, 369 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Atria Books
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Anita Maria I must admit, I grew up in the country and we in fact had an outhouse/privy. The smell was absolutely atrocious; therefore I can honestly see them hid…moreI must admit, I grew up in the country and we in fact had an outhouse/privy. The smell was absolutely atrocious; therefore I can honestly see them hiding a body in there and no-one noticed. I'll about to get graphic here...maggots were common in there, so the body very likely quickly deteriorated, in addition to the fecal matter, there wasn't much left. Back then pig pens were strategically placed close by, coupled with the smell of the pigs and the slop, the odor was greatly masked and became normal (if that smell actually ever becomes normal). (less)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  242,302 ratings  ·  18,777 reviews

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Jeanette (Again)
Kathleen Grissom had the raw materials for a rich and powerful historical novel. Her writing is good, if a little drawn out at times. She has an interesting angle with the orphaned Irish immigrant girl put to work among the slaves. So why did it fall short? I think Grissom slipped too easily into stereotypes and melodrama and never got out of that rut. When you have too many tragic or shocking things happen to too many characters, it becomes predictable and numbs the reader. I started losing tra ...more
♥ Marlene♥
I had sorted this book as literature on my shelf well it is definitely not literature but more cheap sensational stuff based on stereotypes.

While reading this book this is what I wrote:
"I am not liking this book. It feels like the books I read when I was a teen and had nothing good to read. It is too much. Too much sorrow and everything goes wrong. Now she is going to make life changing decisions because of lack of communication. If there is something I dislike it is that in books.

I meant by tha
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful narration!  This was definitely a winner for me because of its awesome narrators who made this such an entertaining and enjoyable read!  I must say this is the first audiobook that I have thoroughly enjoyed and was captivated from start to finish.

THE KITCHEN HOUSE by KATHLEEN GRISSOM is a very touching, powerful, gripping, heart-wrenching, and a beautifully written Historical Fiction novel which is set on a plantation in the antebellum South that grabbed my listening ears ri
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! It deserves more than 5 stars. Truly, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up until the early hours of the morning because I had to finish this story. It’s been ages since I have been that engrossed in a book, or that affected by a story for that matter. There aren’t words to describe the emotions you feel while reading this.
I have to give credit to the author’s wonderful talent for being able to render such an unvarnished, yet grippingly beautiful tale of life on a southern p
Pamela Huxtable
Jan 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Pamela by: Awesome members book club
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 ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What wonderful escapism this novel was and a reminder what great joy books bring to readers now more than ever.


When seven-year-old Irish orphan Lavinia is transported to Virginia to work in the kitchen of a wealthy plantation owner, she is absorbed into the life of the kitchen house and becomes part of the family of black slaves whose fates are tied to the plantation.
But Lavinia’s skin will always set her apart, whether she wishes it or not. And as she grows older, she will be torn be
Gloria ~ mzglorybe
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone, especially history lovers
Recommended to Gloria ~ by: Amazon
An amazing first novel! I rarely hand out 5 stars for a debut novel but this one certainly deserves it.

Author Kathleen Grissom's debut novel about slavery in the South in the late 1700's, early 1800's is one of the best out this year. This thought-provoking look at life on a tobacco plantation in that era both shocks us and draws us into the souls of these compelling characters, the white owners, the black slaves, and the little white girl who is brought in as an indentured servant, with whom w
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
From the Author’s notes: The only time the work came to a standstill was when the characters took me to an event or a place where I had not yet done my research. I tried on a number of occasions to change some of the events (those that I found profoundly disturbing), but the story would stop when I did that, so I forged ahead to write what was revealed.

Antebellum history has been covered numerous times and from numerous angles, just like WWI and WWII history. And yet, no matter how many times we
I really debated what rating to give this book. In terms of keeping me turning the pages, it was riveting, and I had a hard time putting it down. The story of Lavinia, the young Irish orphan who was raised by a family of plantation slaves, had me laughing and crying out loud at times.
My main problem with the book, however, was that the author never seemed to go past the plot and what was happening to the characters externally. Because of this, they often came across as a little shallow and unde
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not recommended
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Most of my friends
I should have loved this; 1st novel, Canadian author, great reviews, southern historical fiction, I was stoked. Maybe that was my problem; overly high expectations the kiss of death. I'll attempt to explain why I rated it so low:

• Boring protagonist; weepy, passive women just irritate me now. I used to be more tolerant; I’ll put this down to aging...
• I read similar books when I was younger, nothing fresh here
• It's a pager turner but the plot was pretty obvious; good story that I wish hadn't m

Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Stories set in the South during the time of slavery are always a difficult read. The Kitchen House is no exception. However, the story told here is not all tragedy. There is also hope, friendship, and love in this story.

The Kitchen House is told from two points of view. Lavinia, a young Irish girl who is now an indentured servant, and Belle, a young black slave, who is half while. Lavinia, is seven years old, when she is orphaned when her parents die during passage by boat. The Captain, takes he
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
It seems that I'll end up in the minority among my reading friends rating this book with 3 stars only, but 3 stars don't mean I didn't like this novel ... I did, I enjoyed reading about rather unusual life of Lavinia who becomes the misterss of the big house, about the terrible treatment of slaves who live in the kitchen house, about their mutual support and love for each other, and about the plantation in the south, however, while reading, I wasn't blown away by the writing, hence my not that h ...more
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
I am surprised by all the 4 & 5 star reviews. While the book is somewhat interesting, it falls flat and reeks of melodrama. It's like the Days of our Lives in the 18th century. The book is very repetitious with tragedy and crisis--you become numb to it after awhile. And yes, the characters are very 2 dimensional. I can't believe that Marshall would just become wholly evil. I expected to see a more complex character than that. All the white women in the book are weak and subdued; the black women ...more
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set during the late 1700's, this was a very touching story about Lavinia, a young white girl who has tragically lost her family during a passage from Ireland to America, and her newly adopted family of slaves who all serve the ship's captain on his tobacco plantation. Working in the kitchen house, Lavinia forges a deep connection with Mama, Papa George, their children, Uncle, and Belle, the illegitimate daughter of the captain. As a young child, Lavinia recognizes no boundaries due to color; if ...more
Can you imagine being in such a frightful shock that you don’t know who you are or where you came from? Now imagine that scenario as an orphaned 7-year-old indentured servant, with an Irish accent unlike the thick southern one that you can barely understand that surrounds you.

This is the terrifying realization for Lavinia, who was thrust to work the house kitchen with other slaves in the late 1700’s in Virginia. Feeling isolated and confused, her fellow slaves open their arms to this sad girl,
Elyse  Walters
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
While reading "The Kitchen House", I often thought, "this must be the years best SOAP OPERA HISTORICAL FICTION novel of the year". Do they give out such awards? lol

Geeeeeee, you'd think the author could have had added a 'little' more drama to hold our interest?/! ha ha!

But.....YES, I liked this book! (most of the characters were well developed for the story). Maybe--the character of Marshall could have been developed a little more from his childhood to his adulthood ----(however, I got the poin
Mar 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Barb

On completion: Four stars! I know I really liked the book, but why, and what is it that prevents me from giving it five stars? You keep turning the pages, I kept wondering what is going to happen next? Yes, a lot does happen, and sometimes it does feel a bit melodramatic given all the shit that hits the fan. What happens does not feel impossible, but sometimes I found myself thinking that the Blacks absolutely never were as bad as the Whites. Let me say once again, the story does n
Thing Two
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one.
Recommended to Thing Two by: Book Club
Shelves: book-club-local
To quote one of my book club mates, "This is just about the worst book I've ever read." I was so happy she'd said this, because it's about the same reaction I had to the drivel this woman published - and, yet it's been recommended to me by no fewer than seven people! Ack!

 photo 50Shades_zps89a6ba64.jpg

Kathleen Grissom started with a great story idea - bring to life the tales of children sold into slavery or indentured servitude in 18th century Virginia whose country of origin was not Africa. In the hands of a more experi
Jul 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not going to waste time on a long review on this one.....My review can be summed up in "one word."

Ready for it?




My review for this book........ is....


By the end of this book I sooooooo wanted to put a few drops of laudanum in my drink, to take away the pain of it all!
Don't waste your time on this poorly written..... predictable.... I only stuck with it due to being a bookclub selection.......
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book. I didn't want to put it down and was excited every time I was able to pick it up. I got completely lost in the world of Lavinia. I fell in love with the characters. I can't wait to pick up the follow up book "Glory Over Everything". Highly recommend for those who are in the mood for historical fiction. ...more
My hat is off to Kathleen Grissom for creating such a wonderful and moving story. I recently read 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett which I also highly recommend. I think the two novels compliment each other very nicely.

Lavinia, born in Ireland, is an indentured servant who comes to live at Tall Oaks tobacco plantation in southern Virginia in 1791. She is placed in the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter. Lavinia lives and works in the kitchen house along side the slaves on the plant
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a spectacular read for me. There are few novels that I become so immersed in and this was one of them. The story is about a white slave girl who becomes part of the slave family in the late 1700's. It's about her growing up in the conflicting white black world and her confusion being pulled into both. It's about the relationships and loyalty that develop and the tragedies that arise during this time. I love Grissom's style of writing - story is told by both Lavinia the white slave and B ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This is an intriguing story of Lavinia, a girl orphaned on a ship from Ireland and brought to the home of a plantation owner where she is to live and work with the slaves in the kitchen house. She becomes deeply bonded to her black family but is set apart because of her white skin.

Eventually Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house where the master is absent and she battled opium addiction.

I can't put into words correctly the tragedies that this woman endures and the lives of the slav
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE KITCHEN HOUSE tells the story from two alternating points of view: Lavinia, a child of indentured servants, and Belle, head cook at Tall Oaks.

Lavinia becomes orphaned during ocean passage to 18th century Virginia. Sea captain Pyke decides to take Lavinia home to his tobacco plantation and put her to work in the Kitchen House with Belle.

This is the story of each one’s survival during a time of love, survival and heartbreak.

THE KITCHEN HOUSE is a compelling work of historical fiction that i wo
Cheryl James
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a masterpiece of historical history. I loved this book from the beginning to the end. As an African American descendant I tend to embrace the story's that reflect the strength of the black slaves back in the day. The sad thing is that the white people who treated the slaves as animals were really slaves themselves. Slaves to jealously, power, ignorance and pure hatred. ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful story, it immediately takes your heart and your hands never stop turning the pages!! I have always kept away from these familiar dramas like"Gone with the wind", but here the Grissom makes wise use of dosing with care the events and emotions of the various characters. They’re the ones you care about as friends of yours, and even for the shittiest people on earth told in the book, you want only a complete redemption of their wickedness. The female characters are so particular and struct ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
It has been a few years since I've read The Kitchen House, however, what I remember most is that I wanted to like it more. I've re-read many of the reviews by fellow readers here on Goodreads, looked back over the book once again, and I still feel just as strongly that it was a terrible let-down. The prose reminded me too much of Gone with the Wind - a whole lot of hyperbole and not a lot of truth in the substance. It is what we "think" the Old South was like but not so much what it was it. The ...more
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book on the Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you Goodreads and Touchstone Fireside publishers. What a gift this book was. Not only did I LOVE the story, but I defy anyone to not care about these characters. From the beginning when you first meet seven year old Lavinia, an orphan first arriving in America from Ireland, all you want to do is hug her and find out where this story takes her. It is a story of the true meaning of family, sacrifice and loyalty. You will want to be a part of Ma ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Kitchen House, Kathleen Grissom
When seven-year-old Irish orphan Lavinia is transported to Virginia to work in the kitchen of a wealthy plantation owner, she is absorbed into the life of the kitchen house and becomes part of the family of black slaves whose fates are tied to the plantation. But Lavinia's skin will always set her apart, whether she wishes it or not. And as she grows older, she will be torn between the life that awaits her as a white woman and the people she knows as kin...A co
THE KITCHEN HOUSE written by Kathleen Grissom and narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin totally captivated me! This first novel by Kathleen Grissom showcases her in depth research of slavery and plantations in the 1700s and her excellent writing. I was quickly immersed in the story with the exceedingly well developed characters.
Lavinia is orphaned on her ocean trip from Ireland to America and bought by the owner of a tobacco plantation to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house
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Born Kathleen Doepker, I was privileged as a child to be raised in Annaheim, Saskatchewan, a hamlet on the plains of Canada. Although we lived in a small, tightly knit Roman Catholic community, I was fortunate to have parents who were open to other religions and cultures. Since television was not a luxury our household could afford, books were the windows that expanded my world.

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
45 likes · 13 comments
“Could I be your girl, too?" I asked quickly.
The large, broad-shouldered man looked away before he answered. "Well, now," he said, as though he had given it deep thought, "I sure do think I would like that."
"But," I said, concerned that he hadn't noticed, "I don't look like your other girls."
"You mean because you white?"
I nodded.
"Abinia," he said, pointing toward the chickens, "you look at those birds. Some of them be brown, some of them be white and black. Do you think when they little chicks, those mamas and papas care about that?”
“We a family, carin' for each other. Family make us strong in times of trouble. We all stick together, help each other out. That the real meanin' of family. When you grow up, you take that family feelin' with you.” 28 likes
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