I had ordered this book on a whim in Amazon when the synopsis interested me. Never did I realise I was soon going to get my hands on a treasure of a book. I looked so forward to reading this book that I would quickly finish up all my housework and plomp myself in bed late at night getting my reading fix for the day. Or while the rest of the household were on gadgets, I would be reading my book in the living room. I just couldn't stop devouring it!
Author Kathleen Grissom's debut novel about slavery in the South (of America) in the late 1700s is one of the best books I have read this year- if not the best. Well written and a definite page turner. It reminded me so much of the classic Gone with The Wind which I loved reading so long ago.
In 1790, a 7 year old white Irish orphan arrives on a Virginia tobacco plantation with no memory of her past. She is put to work as a servant with the black kitchen house slaves. Lavinia is slowly accepted into the world of the big house where the master is mostly absent and the mistress missing her husband, battles with opium addiction. Lavinia gets deeply bonded to the slaves too. As time passes and as she grows up into a young woman, she finds herself torn between her loyalty to her adoptive family and to those in the big house.
Told primarily from Lavinia's perspective, Ms Grissom also injects a different tone by telling some of the story from Belle's view - one of the slaves who becomes a mother figure to Lavinia. A very interesting read with vivid characters and a lot of drama and action. I learnt a lot about slavery in America and how the blacks lived their lives in fear and suppression. How they could be molested, raped, killed or sold like wild animals in auction and yet they could not say anything about it. A truly sad time for the black slaves.
Ms Grissom used coloquial black slavery language for the slaves dialogue which gave reality to the novel. What really gave me the chill in the end was the explanation that Ms Grissom gives on how she came to write The Kitchen House. What gave her the idea or the push to write this novel? You have to read the ending - its chilling and made me grateful that I read this Wow book.
Available in Paperback in Amazon. You can even download recipes, watch a video or invite Ms Grissom to chat wit you in your book club at thekitchenhousebook.com
A sequel Glory over Everything has also been published. My next fix after Olive Kitteridge.