The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wrote a huge review...and then lost it/it didn't save.
Eff you, Goodreads. So here I go again.
The Kitchen House is a fantastic book. I know I only gave it 3/5 stars, but that's because Goodreads still refuses to incorporate a half star rating option.
Eff you again, Goodreads.
Here I go AGAIN.
Lavinia is a orphaned Irish girl whose parents died during a tumultuous trip across the Atlantic. The captain brings her home to his plantation where he leaves her to the care of the slaves he has working on his plantation. In time Lavinia accepts them as her family and treats all the black people are her complete equal which is at odds with the mindset of the late 1700s/early 1800s.
The childlike view she has of there being no difference between races is touching. She becomes close with Belle, the woman instructed to take her under wing. The narratives switches back and forth between Belle and Lavinia, although Lavinia's narrative is generally longer.
Eventually times change and the plantation becomes an unhappy and dangerous place to live on as it falls into the wrong hands. The overseer is a racist criminal and the descent downward is slow but steady. Key characters die and changes are not for the better. Lavinia is sent to live in a city with the captain's wife's family, their intention to make her realize that she is a social better than the black people she has been raised among.
This is a very intense novel--I became attached to the characters quickly and couldn't put the book down. Avidly I read about their future and the grief that they are forced to carry. Even though it is a fictional book, I felt that it was a good representation of the social injustices that occurred in the southern States during that time.
Grissom does not neglect to flesh out characters into beautiful emotional beings, which is why I was so disappointed with the ending of the novel... With me, you cannot win. Sometimes I complain that a novel is TOO neatly tied up at the end, but this time I felt that emotional strings were left hanging. Lavinia is the lead and without spoiling, I will say that she doesn't have a very clear ending.
Other than that, I exceedingly enjoyed this book. It was a fast, easy read and I finished it in a couple days. I recommend this novel if you enjoy historical fiction or maybe you need a touch of enlightenment.
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