The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom

19th Century America, where slavery is still as big as ever.  A small irish girl recently orphaned comes off a boat destined to live as a slave on a tobacco plantation.

Taken in by a well to do family, the small irish girl lives with the black people who serve the owners.  She lives between 2 worlds – the big house where she works, the owner often away and his wife addicted to laudanum, who spends her days in her room despondent.

As the days turn into months and years; Lavinia grows to love her adopted family – working together, eating and sharing their lives.  With Belle teaching her the ropes, she knows there are secrets, things that aren’t talked about openly, but may know the past, and the actions of the owner; but say nothing.

As time goes on, the family changes – the owner dies, the mistress is not herself, even with frequent doses of opium.  Set off for Williamsburg, Lavinia begins her new adventure, she only wants to be back at Tall Oakes, be with her family, the ones that she loves and who love her back.

She ends up marrying the Colonel’s son Marshall.  As he takes over the plantation, he beings to drink, things start to fall apart, changing for the worse.

As Lavinia finds herself with child, she senses a changes in Marshall for the worse.  Drinking and raping women servants.

Outraged, but not being able to do or say anything about it, she herself takes to opium as a way to be able to deal with all that is going on around her.  Not realizing that by doing this, she becomes addicted, and is just as out of it as her mother in law is.

With all the situations that come to play in the novel, The Kitchen House is one of those stories you need to read, even though the situations may have very well happened in that time, it talks about the struggles on both sides whether you were white or black.  The sacrifices that were made, the amount of love these people had for one another, tells the true tale of the human heart no matter the colour of your skin.

The terrifying situations that happened, show us how determined that they were, of the human spirit, how much we can endure, if we only set our mind to it.

Simon and Schuster / Touchstone

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