Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Kathleen Grissom

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0641523,219 (3.98)134
Title:The Kitchen House
Authors:Kathleen Grissom
Info:Touchstone (2010), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Indentured servants -- Fiction, Slaves - Fiction, Plantation life -- Southern States -- Fiction

Work details

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (2010)

  1. 50
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Blogletter)
    Blogletter: Zowel Het Keukenhuis door Kathleen Grissom als Een keukenmeidenroman door Kathryn Stocket gaan over slavernij in Amerika.
  2. 30
    Someone Knows My Name: A Novel by Lawrence Hill (Anonymous user, vancouverdeb)
    Anonymous user: Both The Kitchen House and the Book of Negroes are about Black Slavery in the South. They are different, but provide an eye opening look at Black Slavery.
  3. 10
    Oonagh by Mary Tilberg (Iudita)
    Iudita: Historical fiction about indentured servants.
  4. 00
    Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball (dara85)
  5. 11
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker (varwenea)
  6. 00
    Cane River by Lalita Tademy (dara85)
  7. 00
    Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim (susiesharp)
    susiesharp: this is also a tale of the south and slavery but this one is not as depressing as The Kitchen House but has a similar feel.
  8. 01
    Year the Colored Sisters Came to Town by Jacqueline Guidry (varwenea)
  9. 01
    The Ways of White Folks: Stories by Langston Hughes (varwenea)
  10. 01
    Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (varwenea)
  11. 01
    The Long Song by Andrea Levy (vancouverdeb)
    vancouverdeb: Similar themes: black slaves, a young woman who works within the "White Master's" Plantation house.Slavery,Freedom from slavery; both wonderfully written. Divided loyalities, a fiesty female slave.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 134 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
I picked this book up on a whim at my local used bookstore. I absolutely loved it.

I don't know how realistic the plot line is, but it really draws you in and makes you feel for the characters. I loved some, hated some, and wanted to hit some for their actions, but that means the book is well written, which it is.

If you are looking for a decent historical read, definitely give this one a try. ( )
  keyboardscoffee | May 30, 2016 |
The Kitchen House – Grissom
Audio version performed by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin
4 stars


This is a very well-told and tragic story. It concerns the white child, Lavinia, who is an indentured servant on a Southern plantation from the age of seven. She is raised in the plantation’s kitchen house by Belle, the master’s illegitimate, mixed race, enslaved daughter. Each of these characters alternates in telling the miserable, violent story of the plantation and its people. Grissom was able to portray the real love and family feeling that existed between the inmates of the kitchen house and the slave quarters. She was also able to make clear the precarious nature of their situation, while showing the contradictory behavior of their white owners. I was reminded of Octavia Butler’s Kindred. Any likable, pitiable, or redeeming characteristics that are shown in the white plantation owners are completely overshadowed by the overwhelming injustice of slavery as an institution.

The story raises Lavinia from her position as a servant child to her adult change of place as the mistress of the house. It is a soap opera that includes physical and sexual abuse, drug addiction, deaths of illness, accident and murder. Most of all there is a history of preventable tragedy caused by misunderstandings and unstated facts. The book was well written and the audio performances were excellent, but I found the story to be unremittingly depressing.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This book reeled me in, tore out my heart, and threw it in a ditch somewhere. SO emotional, so heart wrenching! At times, I was so frustrated that I yelled at the pages. ( )
  BethanyMoore | May 13, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this story. It's set in the late 1700's. A very young Irish girl is left orphaned on board ship, and the Captain takes her home with him to his Southern tobacco farm. However, she is given to the slaves to raise in the kitchen house. There she is exposed to the very different lifestyles found on the plantation-- the extreme privilege of those in the 'big house' who are white, the slaves who serve in the 'big house', and the very neglected farm slaves, the lowest rung of the ladder. Each character is well-written and I really did have empathy given the mistreatment of the slaves (not necessarily physical abuse but emotional; the condescension), and had very little tolerance of the occupants of the big house. The story is told from several of the characters' perspectives which made it interesting. Of course all the bad folks get what's coming to them in the end. ( )
  debbie-1955 | May 7, 2016 |
Audiobook narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin

Lavinia, her brother and parents emigrated from Ireland with hopes of a better life in America. But her parents die aboard ship, still owing the captain for their passage. As per the current law in 1791, Captain Pyke can indenture the children to pay off that debt. He sells the boy but brings Lavinia to his Virginia estate, where he turns the six-year-old over to Belle, his illegitimate black daughter, who runs the kitchen house. Slowly the frightened child warms to her new family, as she learns to cook, clean, and serve food. Eventually she comes to be the main comfort of the Captain’s wife, who is addicted to laudanum, and spends much of her time in the “big house.”

I can certainly see why this has become so popular with book clubs. It has an interesting basic story line, some tension-filled scenes, and complex relationships between characters. However, it’s not the best-written book. Grissom tends to repeat herself in scene after scene, making me wonder when she’d finally get to the crucial scene she foreshadowed in the prologue. I felt the ending was rushed, wrapping up a complicated scenario a bit too neatly. Still, it held my attention and was a fairly quick read.

The story is told in alternating voices – Lavinia and Belle. Lavinia seems pretty slow to catch on to the realities of her situation, and more importantly the realities of her slave family’s lives. While the chapters narrated by Belle leave no doubt as to what is really happening. About half-way through I realized that Lavinia’s chapters much considerably longer than Belle’s, and when I looked at the text this became even more apparent.

Grissom based the novel on a small discovery she made when renovating an old Virginia plantation tavern. Many poor whites were so indentured, living and working among the slaves on the plantation until their debts were paid off. Some of them never gained their freedom.

Orlagh Cassidy (voicing Lavinia’s chapters) and Bahni Turpin (performing Belle’s) do a fine job on the audio book. They are both accomplished voice artists, with good pacing and an ability to differentiate the various characters. ( )
  BookConcierge | May 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
Though there are several compelling insights in The Kitchen House, it’s nevertheless a formulaic story. There are graphic shocks, but no surprises.
added by lkernagh | editQuill & Quire, Sara Forsyth (Mar 1, 2010)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For my beloved parents, Ted and Catherine Doepker, and for my dear mentor, Eleanor Drewry Dolan
First words
There was a strong smell of smoke, and new fear fueled me.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
After seven-year-old Lavinia is orphaned on the journey from Ireland to the United States, she begins work in the kitchen house of a tobacco plantation and bonds with the slaves who become her adopted family, but when Lavinia is accepted into the big house, her loyalties are challenged.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

"In 1790, Lavinia, a seven-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past, arrives on a tobacco plantation where she is put to work as an indentured servant with the kitchen house slaves. Though she becomes deeply bonded to her new family, Lavinia is also slowly accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. As time passes she finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds and when loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare and lives are at risk. "--Publisher's description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
15 avail.
384 wanted
2 pay8 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.98)
1 8
2 30
2.5 10
3 114
3.5 55
4 292
4.5 62
5 194


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,991,083 books! | Top bar: Always visible