The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
This debut novel takes a slightly different look at plantation life at the turn of the 19th Century. At its onset, Lavinia, a seven-year-old orphaned Irish indentured servant, is taken to live with black slaves in the Kitchen House of a Virginia tobacco plantation. She is put under the care of Belle, the illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner. She embraces Belle and the other slaves as her family. Later she is accepted into the white world of the “big house,” and finds herself torn in her love and loyalties. The narration of the book alternates between Lavinia and Belle, providing different points of view. Sometimes sentimental, sometimes romanticizing Southern life, this novel nonetheless succeeds in showing the inhumanity of slavery. There are a variety of flawed characters who add interest to the story. This book will probably most appeal to women who enjoy historical fiction.