Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Kitchen House

By: Kathleen Grissom

Rating: 5 stars

Who Should Read This: Anyone who is interested in or wants to try a historical fiction. If you liked The Help or The Baker's Daughter, I think this book will definitely pique your interest!

Synopsis (By Goodreads):
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 on-board 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 Thoughts:
Loved this book!! This was one of the books that I had on my shelf that I discussed in my Spring TBR list for Top Ten Tuesday. I just HAD to buy this at Christmas and only just got around to starting it this past Thursday night. Even though I planned to read this while I was home for the holidays (I always think I will get more reading done than I do) I am actually happy that I never got around to reading it at the time. Lately, I have been trying to start books on my reading shelf and have just been uninspired. I find myself going and buying books for my Kindle or buying new books at the bookstore even though I have tons on my shelf. So this past Thursday I finally looked at my shelf determined to make a dent.

By Friday night at about 12:30 I had finished the book. I started this on Thursday night, and even though I had only gotten about 7-8 hours of sleep combined for the previous 2 nights, I could not go to bed on Friday without finishing this book. That was how much I loved it! I fell in love with the protagonist of the story, Lavinia, by page 5 or 6 for her naivety, her acceptance and love for those around her, and her persistence in hoping that everything will work out for the best. She comes to the plantation as a white indentured servant and after awhile becomes deeply attached to the other servants she lives with and who take care of her. They become her adopted family as she struggles coming of age and not understanding why she has to be white, why she can't stay and live with them always, and why some treat her better than the others. Lavinia does not understand how the master and his family see her differently then the rest of her adopted family.

The author did an amazing job with showing the struggles that went on in rural Virginia in the late 1700's between the master family and their servants. She painted a vivid picture of the tobacco plantation and it was so easy to be engulfed by this story. I couldn't help but look up to Mama Mae and Papa George or root for Ben and Belle. My heart even ached for Miss Martha who suffered from multiple tragedies. Throughout the book you realized how much everyone on the plantation relied and leaned on each other, regardless of race, but still struggled with their roles. As Lavinia grows up, the reader sees her transition into a sophisticated young woman, yet still always puts her adopted family first. She falls in love, believing that this will take her back to the adopted family she has been separated from, only to find that life is no longer the easy, carefree one she remembers from childhood.

This book will pull at your heart strings, and I found myself entranced by these families. I definitely fell into the book head first and enveloped myself in it. It was the same feeling I got when I read The Help and was so disappointed when it was finished. I wanted to keep on living on the plantation and be surrounded by the people in the book that I had come to admire. It may sound sappy, but the author definitely did a wonderful job in creating characters that you fall in love with! Either way, I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I did. It is definitely one I will be insistently giving to my friends to enjoy and hopefully be enraptured by. I would love to hear what others who have read this novel thought!

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