Thursday, June 13, 2013

"The Kitchen House" by Kathleen Grissom

 The Kitchen House

Our recent book club selection was The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.

The author has taken the long route to her first novel.  She was born in Canada, became a nurse, then an ad executive at a graphics company in Manhattan.  She eventually relocated with her husband to an old plantation in rural Virginia.  Her website recounts "As we restored our old plantation home, I began to research the history of our home and the land that surrounded it.  Then I discovered the notation "Negro Hill" on an old map.  Unable to determine the story of its origin, local historians suggested that it most likely represented a tragedy.  To this day I am uncertain why the notation captured me so, but fascinated, I gradually set aside everything else to pursue the research and writing of the story that is now The Kitchen House.  

The book tells a fascinating story of an 18th century orphaned Irish girl who becomes an indentured servant in a plantation's kitchen house. The slaves become her loving adopted family but her color sets her apart.  She eventually goes to work in the big house where circumstances lead to tragedy.  The book details daily life on the plantation for the slaves and owners as well as creating a fast-paced emotional story.  This is an excellent choice for book clubs as it created lots of lively discussion.

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