- Kelly McDermott-Bay
- Hello, my name is Kelly and I welcome you to the Bookend Diaries book blog. I created this blog to share my own reviews of existing and new books, to discuss with other readers what we’re currently reading, update you on my book club picks, and of course, to ultimately support the work of the authors we all enjoy. I am addicted to reading and I thought this would be a great way to reach out to other readers who are as obsessed with books as I am.
Friday, April 30, 2010
The Kitchen House by: Kathleen Grissom
***Received an advance copy courtesy Simon & Schuster Publishing
Grissom's unsentimental debut twists the conventions of the antebellum novel just enough to give readers an involving new perspective on what would otherwise be fairly stock material. Lavinia, an orphaned seven-year-old white indentured servant, arrives in 1791 to work in the kitchen house at Tall Oaks, a Tidewater, Va., tobacco plantation owned by Capt. James Pyke. Belle, the captain's illegitimate half-white daughter who runs the kitchen house, shares narration duties, and the two distinctly different voices chronicle a troublesome 20 years: Lavinia becomes close to the slaves working the kitchen house, but she can't fully fit in because of her race. At 17, she marries Marshall, the captain's brutish son turned inept plantation master, and as Lavinia ingratiates herself into the family and the big house, racial tensions boil over into lynching, rape, arson, and murder. The plantation's social order's emphasis on violence, love, power, and corruption provides a trove of tension and grit, while the many nefarious doings will keep readers hooked to the twisted, yet hopeful, conclusion.
My Review Comments:
I couldn’t wait to read this book, the concept was so interesting to me. The story tells of Lavinia, an Irish orphaned indentured servant who, at age seven, lives on tobacco plantation in Virginia. She lives with all the black slaves in the kitchen house that stands outside of the big house on the plantation. They become her family and guide, protect, and shower her with unconditional love. As she grows up, she soon sees for herself the difference between races and the challenges that lie ahead for all of them. I found the book gripping and I couldn’t put it down. It was so well written and the character development was so strong, that I found them coming to life on the pages right in front of me, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next in their lives.