Friday, September 9, 2016

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (audiobook)

The Kitchen House
by Kathleen Grissom [Compact Disc Grissom] 

A friend of mine had listened to this audiobook and highly recommended it. I think they simply meant I should read the book, but when I saw the audiobook was available, I jumped at the chance to listen to it. It’s read by two different women, in the voices of two of the main characters, Lavinia and Belle.
This book takes place in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, on a tobacco plantation in Virginia. Lavinia is a 7-year-old white girl from Ireland who, for various reasons, is taken in by the plantation owner but is assigned to live and work with the slaves who work the Kitchen House (basically doing the cooking and/or cleaning for the folks in the Big House, as opposed to those slaves who do field work and live “down in the Quarters”). Belle is instructed to look after Lavinia, and initially, this is a chore she’d really rather not have. Time progresses through the book and follows the lives of Lavinia and Belle and the different paths their lives take.

I’ve read a number of books, over the years, covering slavery and usually from the perspective of the slave. The thing that really struck me about this particular book is that this white girl from Ireland starts out being treated somewhat like a slave (and is loved by and cared for by the slave family there in the Kitchen House); but at some point, Lavinia reaches woman-hood and is no longer considered low enough to spend her time with the slaves. In fact, there comes a point where she is even their mistress. It’s harder for Lavinia to wrap her head around than it is for her black family. I felt like this story really put some things in perspective for me, in a way that other books about slavery have not done as clearly for me.
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try 12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, or Roots, by Alex Haley] [ official Kathleen Grissom web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

No comments: