I am usually excited about reading my book club’s selections but I was especially happy when I read the back cover of The Kitchen House. It is one of those books that I had heard about without hearing anything about, if you know what I mean. But from what I thought I heard I got the feeling that it was going to be a good one. Don’t you just love osmosis?
Here is what the back cover, which I delicately skimmed with the utmost caution (I hate being spoiled), had to say:
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 onboard 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.
Just when I thought that there were [sic] new stories to tell about plantation life in Antebellum South, Kathleen Grissom has given us something unique with her first novel. She gives her readers a look at that life through the eyes of an indentured servant. I couldn’t help putting myself in Lavinia’s place, feeling her deep need for finding a home and understanding her inability to see and accept that one race of people is lesser than another.
I love that this novel is going to be offering a different perspective on a time in United States history that is marked by tragedy and cruelty. Jennifer also notes that this will be a great book for a book club discussion. I am looking forward to the discussion next Tuesday.