The Kitchen House
Publication Date: May 2010
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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
Orphaned while onboard a 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 deeply bonds with 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 and she 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. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- 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?