This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Debs Carr
It’s 1791 when seven-year-old, newly orphaned Lavinia is brought by Captain Pyke to his tobacco
plantation to live in the kitchen house with Mama Mae and the other servants. Athough her new life is completely alien to the little girl and completely different to her home in Ireland, she overcomes her fears of this new life and becomes close to her adopted family. Lavinia is looked after by Belle, the captain's beautiful, illegitimate daughter and as Lavinia grows older the only thing separating her from her adopted family is the colour of her skin.
The captain's fragile wife can't cope with his absences, she is eaten up with jealousy for Belle and unaware that the girl is actually the captain's daughter, believes her to be his mistress and spends most of her time in a drug-enduced haze trying to block out her emotions. She has a difficult relationship with her sullen son, Marshall, but adores her little daughter, Sally. When tragedy strikes, Lavinia ends up being an unexpected source of comfort for the woman. The undercurrent of danger and occasional violence from the vicious overseer, as well as unspoken secrets, put those that Lavinia loves most in terrifying situations. Whether she likes it or not, Lavinia is different to the rest of the servants and ends up having to face choices and obstacles that take her through experiences she could never have before imagined.
The Kitchen House is written from both Lavinia's point of view as well as Belle's and begins with a dramatic prologue set in 1810, so the reader is aware from the start of the book that something devastating is going to happen. However, all the way through the book during the years from 1791 to 1810 the undercurrent of impending danger, fear and change is so evident that it ensures this book is a page-turner and one I found difficult to put down. I think The Kitchen House would make a wonderful film; the author's love of the plantation is evident and it emanates throughout the story almost becoming one of the characters. This book has already been very successful in America and I can see why. I loved it and could imagine wanting to read it again at some point.
Kathleen Grissom's Website