Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
I loved this book!
It is the story of Lavania and the family that she has created for herself. The story opens with Lavania being deposited at the kitchen house by the Captain. Lavania is a frightened and deeply disoriented little girl whose parents have both died on the Captain's ship as it crossed the Atlantic. Her older brother was sold into indentured servitude and the Captain didn't know what to do with her so she was given to the slaves at the kitchen on his plantation.
What a lucky turn of events for Lavania!
Through Belle and Big Mamma, two of the kitchen slaves, Lavania slowly comes to her senses and begins to grow -to blossom. We find out about the terrible disfunction of this plantation where the Captain is away for long periods of time and his wife is too doped up on Opium to be sensible. The slaves are run by a horrible overseer - sounds a little stereotypical - but probably true too.
This is a window into the world of a plantation through the eyes of a scared, lonely girl who slowly grows into a beautiful colorblind woman. Being colorblind in the south before the civil war is not always an easy thing - as Lavania learns again and again.
The only part of this book I didn't like was the beginning. The book opens with a scene that actually takes place much later in the story. It made me dread that moment and jump to conclusions about it. I'm sure that is what Grissom wanted - but it really took away from the story for me. I actually stopped reading for a day because I didn't want it to happen. And then I felt a bit manipulated.
But - aside from that I would strongly recommend this! I read it right after The Help. Interesting to have those two stories back to back in my head...the South from long ago and not so long ago with many of the same issues still there...