Saturday, March 23, 2013

Recently Read: The Kitchen House

Before embarking on a 12-hour road trip to Florida, I packed three books and selected The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom as the first read. It had been awhile since I'd enjoyed some historical fiction and the back cover said there was a "dark secret" to be exposed...

It didn't take long to become engrossed in the life of young Lavinia, an indentured servant arriving to Virginia in 1791. Separated from her Irish family, she becomes a part of the Tall Oaks plantation, but belongs neither in the big house or the kitchen house, where she is intended to live.

Grissom offers two perspectives in narrating the story by Lavinia, and also Belle, a slave and manager of the kitchen house. At first I was put-off by this, but the book would have been lacking without Belle's perspective. As a level-headed mainstay of the plantation, Belle offers the story a sense of balance.

The book explores themes of isolation, history repeating itself and of course, secrets! This is by no means a feel-good novel. It is however, a feel-real novel, as the characters and their emotions easily come to life.
After finishing, I couldn't bring myself to start another book right away. I needed to revel in this story awhile. I lived in, smelled, hated and loved the kitchen house. I experienced all the good and bad the plantation had to offer, thanks to Grissom's excellent development of the scene and its characters.

I loaned this book out to one co-worker who concurred with my assessment. I'm curious what other readers thought of the book.

1 comment:

  1. I'm on the third book of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, and I need something good to read when I'm done, because I've liked this series so much. Sounds like I've got my next book lined up!