Monday, July 5, 2010
The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom
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.
The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.
This books uses the dual narration of Lavinia and Belle. As Lavinia grows, you get to experience her change in point of view; her maturing before our eyes. Belle, on the other hand, tells us the much darker reality of how their farm is run and the bad things happening around her.
I really enjoyed this book. You are quickly drawn into these characters and those around them. I felt for Lavinia as she realized that she wouln't be able to stay with her adoptive family of house and field workers, for Belle as she watched the man she loves love another woman, as they both struggle for "free papers" and what they should do if/when they get them.
I'll be honest...I haven't read a lot of books about slavery. If they were all this beautifully written- I'd read a lot more of them.