Book Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

In the Spring of 1791, 6 year old Lavinia her older brother and parents left Ireland for America. Their passage was paid for by a Captain James Pyke. During the voyage Lavinia's parents died. Upon reaching America the Captain kept Lavinia and had her placed in his kitchen house on his plantation. Lavinia would work until she paid the debt of
her families passage to America. The Captain's plantation was called Tall Oaks and it was in Tidewater, Virginia. The chief crop was tobacco. Belle a young bi-racial woman is in charge of the kitchen house. At first Belle is annoyed at her young dependent. Lavinia spends the first few days sucking her thumb and sitting on a pallet in the kitchen. Mama Mae an older woman that also works in the big house and in the kitchen, believes Lavinia is sick. Mama Mae makes her nourishing soup for Lavinia. Soon, Lavinia is well, and can learn what will become her duties.
The Pyke family consists of Captain James Pyke, who is often gone in his ship. His wife Martha. Their two children: Marshall and Sally.
It quickly becomes apparent in the opening pages of The Kitchen House that the Pyke family is deeply troubled.

This is a well-written story. It is a page turner, never a dull paragraph, emotionally gripping, and by the end I was nearly gasping for a break so I could take a deep breath.
It is an epic-type-southern-themed-family-saga.
It was deeply disturbing what black slaves endured. Especially the women. Neither women nor men had a voice in order to say no to anything. But, it was the black women that's female anatomy and reproductive system that was abused.
This was an era when women married because they had no other way of providing for themselves. They were expected to marry, marry young, and begat as many children as possible. 
Men often were gone. They were absent husband's and absent father's. 
People did not talk about things as they do today: assumptions were thus made, lies were told, and people looked the other way while horrible atrocities were made.
This book  more than any other spark of label that could be put on it, speaks loudly of the life or rather existence of a black slave on a southern plantation.

Published by Touchstone 2010
384 pages
Fiction/Slavery/Southern Plantation/Irish Immigrant
Paperback $13.88
Nook $12.99
Paperback $10.88
Kindle $12.99

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