Author: Kathleen Grissom
Publication: Transworld Digital (14 Mar. 2013)
Summary: 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…
What I Think
Set between the years of 1791 and 1810 The Kitchen House tells the story of Lavinia, a young white orphan who is intentured to a wealthy landowner in Virginia. It's the story of 'what ifs'. What if her parents hadn't died on the passage from Ireland to America. What if she and her brother Cardigan hadn't been separated. What if she'd known the truth... This novel weaves layers and layers of secrets, some which Lavinia is too young to understand and and some which she makes up her own truth for. This, ultimately, is her downfall.
Lavinia is but one of a large cast of characters in this novel. She is naive, but likable, however not my favourite. Out of all of them Mama Mae is my favourite character. 'I work for Mrs. Pyke like I don't know what tired mean. Nothing' that I won't do. "Yes, Mrs. Pyke, you right, Mrs. Pyke," that all I say. You girls watch me close. I act like I don't have no mind of my own, except how to make every body in the big house happy. That because I mean to stay up there, and I tryin' hard to keep you girls with me.'
I found this to be a real page-turner; I really couldn't wait to see how the story would unfold. It was exciting up until the very end.
About the Author
Over the past ten years, Kathleen Grissom and her husband have been restoring an old plantation tavern in Virginia. While researching the plantation's past, Kathleen found an old map on which, not far from their home, was the notation, 'Negro Hill'. Unable to determine the story of its origin, local historians suggested that it most likely represented a tragedy. This became the inspiration behind The Kitchen House.
This is Kathleen Grissom's first novel.