The Kitchen House

By Kathleen Grissom
(Touchstone Books, Paperback, 9781439153666, 384pp.)

Publication Date: February 2, 2010

List Price: $16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Winter 2011 Reading Group List
“A perfect book for reading groups, The Kitchen House makes the reader ponder issues of race in a reverse way, as we see what life was like for Irish orphan Lavinia within the servant community of a tobacco plantation. With characters that are both wonderful and horrible, this is a book that continues to make me think about human nature and cross-cultural relationships.”
-- Susan Richmond, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA


Description
In this gripping" New York Times" bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.
Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.
In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master's opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.
Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom's debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds.



About the Author
Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Kathleen Grissom is now happily rooted in south-side Virginia, where she and her husband live in the plantation tavern they renovated. The Kitchen House "is her first novel. You can visit her website at KathleenGrissom.com.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story through two narrators? How are Lavinia's observations and judgments different from Belle's? Does this story belong to one more than the other? If you could choose another character to narrate the novel, who would it be?

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