the Kitchen House by—-Kathleen Grissom (2010 Simon and Schuster)


In 1810 a seven-year old white girl named Lavinia is brought to live (as an indentured servant)  at the plantation home of Captain Pyke in the old South.  She has barely survived the sea crossing from Ireland – a trip that claimed the lives of her parents. The Captain considers it an act of kindness to bring her into his household because there  is little hope that she will live and even if she survives she would be too weak to be of much help. She is sent to the kitchen house to be trained by  Captain Pyke’s illegitimate mixed-race daughter. At first she is barely alive but slowly  the house slaves nurture her back to life. She has no memory of her past life and the African-American  slaves become her family. Her years as a servant, living among the slaves are peaceful,( for the most part), and happy-(again  much of the time)

The Captain’s son is a brute who is sent away for his education.  He re-enters Lavinia’s life later  when Mrs. Pyke’s sister takes on Lavinia as a project—she wants to turn her into a lady– resulting in far-reaching consequences.  A cruel husband and an evil overseer and many other characters good and bad populate this tale. Lavinia never stops loving her slave family but sometimes that can work against them all.

This is a gripping novel that will , at times, make you want to shake your head at the cruelty of  some men and women.  It is , in my opinion, a very worthwhile read. 

This book was available at my library.


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Filed under General fiction, historical fiction

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