Title: The Kitchen House
Author: Kathleen Grissom
Publisher: Touchstone 2010
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars
Reading Challenges: I Love Libraries; Popsugar -- Finish in a day; Women Authors
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.
Our book club selection for February. I'll admit that the first two chapters didn't really hook me, but I kept on reading. And the book and characters got much more interesting. The plotline was fairly predictable. I could ignore the predictable based on the strength of the characters. I was drawn into Belle and Lavinia and Miss Martha and Jamie and Fanny and Mama. I was rooting for all of them but knew this wasn't going to be the happily ever after kind of story. The ending seemed like the happiest one that could happen given the storyline. I appreciate that Grissom didn't go for a fairytale ending. In the end, I very much enjoyed this book. Now I have to wait until late February for book club to discuss.