The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin
Published in audio by Blackstone Audio; Published in print by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
After both of her parents die on their crossing from Ireland to America, seven-year old Lavinia is taken on as an indentured servant by the captain of the ship on which she sailed, in order to pay for her fare. As the only white indentured servant on the plantation, Lavinia’s place is somewhat uncertain. She lives with the plantation slaves, but is educated by her master’s family and treated completely differently than is the rest of their help. Inevitably, as Lavinia grows up, her dual identity as a white and eventually free person and someone who considers herself part of a family whose other members are enslaved causes problems that may put her and those she loves in danger.
Thoughts on the story:
I don’t know if it has to do with the books I happen to pick up or what is being published at any point in time in general, but I oftentimes find myself in a morass of historical fiction, drowning in books which are all on the same topic. As such, “The Kitchen House” was very refreshing indeed. I have only read one other book with a character who is an indentured servant, and the quality of the writing and storytelling was definitely better in “The Kitchen House.” Lavinia was not the only narrator, the enslaved woman with whom she lived, Belle, also narrated some chapters, although she had a small percentage of the book as compared with Lavinia. Grissom handled the dual narrators well, however. Belle was able to show the reader things that Lavinia could not know, but was given enough depth and emotion that her narration did not seem just a cheap plot device, but actually enhanced the story being told.
Thoughts on the audio production:
I thought the narration was terrific. For more specifics, please see the review I wrote for AudioFile Magazine.
I think this would be enjoyable either in print or in audio. Recommended.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.