The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – 369 pages
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, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
My Review: 4 stars
The Kitchen House is a heartbreaking journey to the early 1800’s on a Southern plantation. The uncommon twist in the story is one that unleashes a myriad of issues to disturb the order of race on a plantation.
The young Irish girl who shows up at the plantation becomes a well-loved family member amongst the slaves but the white plantation still sees her as an indentured servant. This created insurmountable drama which of course leads to an amazing read.
There were times this book was hard to stomach. Scenes that exposed the many injustices to slaves were unbearable but important to the story. The author countered this with the sincere hope the slaves held onto.
I highly recommend this book and makes for a hearty discussion.
Quotes I liked:
What the color is, who the daddy be, who the mama is don’t mean nothin’. 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.”
-“…but like Mama say, sometimes we got to live it out before we learn.”