The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House

A Novel

eBook - 2010
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Baker & Taylor
Working as an indentured servant alongside slaves on a tobacco plantation, Lavinia, a 7-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past, finds her light skin and situation placing her between two very different worlds that test her loyalties. A first novel. Original.

Simon and Schuster
In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.

Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.

Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom’s debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds.

Publisher: 2010
ISBN: 9781439160121
Branch Call Number: E-Book
Characteristics: data file
1 online resource


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May 03, 2017

Beautifully narrated and touching story which has a true base in the history of slavery.
Even though it's drama, you get to make deep connection with these families of slaves who have meaningful and deep relationship among them and the compassion among them is admirable.

Oct 18, 2016

Having the story told by two voices makes this novel much stronger. Lavinia is 7 when she comes to the plantation as a white indentured servant with, at first, no memory of her parents' death on the trip from Ireland. Belle is a young mulatto slave, daughter of the plantation's owner, given charge over the child, to care for her and teach her to be a house servant. Lavinia comes to love the people she lives among, calling them "my family." The feeling is mutual. Mostly, the characters are very well rounded--I'd say the major exception is the overseer. On the other hand, much of what we know historically of how overseers treated slaves is exactly like this man treated the people he had power over. For me, the ending, the last few paragraphs, was a bit abrupt. I'd read the sequel first, which may be the reason for this reaction on my part. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the fast paced book, and look forward to what I suspect will be a third in the series.

Sep 11, 2016

I've read many similar tales, but without the indentured servant twist. Never the less, I liked it very much. It did not gloss over major problems, but rather treated them gently enough so that I was able to continue reading. Too often the graphic horror of a situation is enough to make me unable to keep on, so this was well handled, in my opinion. Well developed characters, and an interesting take on drug use.

Jul 29, 2016

Great book, I really enjoyed it!

Jul 10, 2016

I am a bit bothered by the book's melodrama and stereotypes, which kept it from being a great book. Characters lack a lot of depth, and most were either completely good or completely bad. One of the main antagonists was a character who seemed so bi-polar, but the author didn't really delve into why he was that way.

With that said, it was an easy book to pick up, with a writing style that flowed, and I enjoyed spending time with those characters who were generally pretty pleasant (I mean....who wouldn't??)

I just felt it's a story with a lot of potential had it not been so "white-washed."

I just learned there is a related novel put out--"Glory Over Everything." I do think I may try it to see if the author has developed the characters any further.

Jul 09, 2016

Good read! Interesting to learn about how life was back then, in that situation.

Jun 11, 2016

Really enjoyed this book, there is a lot to be said about this book, but what comes to mind is the amount of resiliency that is present throughout the book. Very emotionally charged at points, but a very good, and captivating read. Would highly recommend.

ChristchurchLib Mar 28, 2016

In 1791, seven-year-old Irish orphan Lavinia becomes an indentured servant at Tall Oaks, a tobacco plantation in Tidewater Virginia owned by Captain James Pyke. Entrusted to the care of Belle, Pyke's illegitimate and enslaved daughter, Lavinia lives and works with the slaves in the plantation's kitchen house. Eventually, she's summoned to the big house to tend to her opium-addicted mistress, a turn of events that will endanger both Lavinia and Belle. If you enjoy this compelling character-driven family saga, keep an eye out for the forthcoming Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House, which follows the next generation.

Mar 20, 2016

This is a story that will stick with me for a long time. The characters are well developed and I felt their happiness and their grief right along with them. It is a story about circumstance, love, family and survival of an endentured white slave and her loving black slave family. Beautiful story. Highly recommended.

Mar 04, 2016

Amazing book! I absolutely loved it! Highly recommend if you enjoy historical fiction books.

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Oct 10, 2013

Historical fiction depicting the lives of slaves in the pre-Civil War South, and the life of a woman who arrives in the U.S. from Ireland as an indentured servant and grows up to become the mistress of the plantation where she first arrived as an indentured servant.

Sep 18, 2011

Main characters Lavinia, Belle, Mama Mae, Papa, Marshall, Rankin.
A page turner, like a British Victorian novel, captures voice of the times, good on black dialect, insights into situation of slaves vis-a-vis the white masters, sex relations, & on plight of indentured Irish.


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Jul 24, 2014


mrsgail5756 May 29, 2013

“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” –John F Kennedy


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Dec 31, 2014

ironbed9 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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