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The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

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A novel of inter-racial relationships set in Virginia at the end of the 18th century which focuses on a young Irish orphan girl befriended by black slaves. She grows up to marry a cruel drunkard white plantation owner. As a girl caught between two worlds, she strives for justice in both. A tale of secrets ,murder, rape, incest and the strength of the human spirit when faced with adversity, it is not a light read but does end in a very fast-moving, exciting chapter. Told in two voices, it is a rollercoaster of a story with its emphasis on love and hope and a strong portrayal of the cruelty of the slaves’ experiences. A very good book indeed.

If you like Kathleen Grissom you might also like to read books by Kyle Onstott, Andrea Levy and Kathryn Stockett.


The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

'You must not become too friendly with them,' she said. 'They are not the same as us.' 'How?' I asked. 'How are they not the same?' When seven-year-old Irish orphan Lavinia is transported to Virginia to work in the kitchen of a wealthy plantation owner, she is absorbed into the life of the kitchen house and becomes part of the family of black slaves whose fates are tied to the plantation. But Lavinia's skin will always set her apart, whether she wishes it or not. And as she grows older, she will be torn between the life that awaits her as a white woman and the people she knows as kin.

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'I recommend the novel THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom. This novel, like THE HELP, does important work: it factors in the experience not only of African-Americans under enslavement, but of poor white Europeans, who, during the same period of American history, were often indentured.' Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple and Pulitzer Prize winner

'The plantation's social order's emphasis on violence, love, power, and corruption provides a trove of tension and grit, while the many nefarious doings will keep readers hooked to the twisted, yet hopeful, conclusion.' Publishers Weekly

'A heart-breaking novel set on a 1790s Virginia plantation. A page-turning romantic tragedy.' ASOS magazine, April 2013

'A powerful, well written story that doesn't pull any punches.' Choice, April 2013

'a potent picture of servant life in plantation America.' Sainsburys Magazine

About the Author

Over the past ten years, Kathleen Grissom and her husband have been restoring an old plantation tavern in Virginia. While researching the plantation's past, Kathleen found an old map on which, not far from their home, was the notation, 'Negro Hill.' Unable to determine the story of its origin, local historians suggested that it most likely represented a tragedy. This became the inspiration behind THE KITCHEN HOUSE. This is Kathleen Grissom's first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

29th August 2013


Kathleen Grissom

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Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd


400 pages


Historical Fiction
Family Drama
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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