Dear Library Patrons, The mission of NYPL is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities. Government support only pays for a portion of our work, so we rely on you to help - from stocking our shelves with amazing books, expanding our e-Book selection, classes, events, or even making free WiFi accessible to all. We are trying to raise $500,000 by December 31: an ambitious goal, but one that will fund incredible learning and reading in our community. Please consider donating to help keep our services free to all New Yorkers in 2015 >>


The Kitchen House

Grissom, Kathleen

(Book - 2010)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Kitchen House
Baker & Taylor
Working as an indentured servant alongside slaves on a tobacco plantation, Lavinia, a 7-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past, finds her light skin and situation placing her between two very different worlds that test her loyalties. A first novel. Original.

& Taylor

Working as an indentured servant alongside slaves on a tobacco plantation, Lavinia, a seven-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past, finds her light skin and situation placing her between two very different worlds that test her loyalties.

Simon and Schuster
In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.

Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.

Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom’s debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds.

Publisher: New York : Touchstone Books, 2010
Edition: 1st Touchstone trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 9781439153666
Branch Call Number: FIC G
Characteristics: 368 p. ; 21 cm.


From Library Staff

June 24 6:30PM

February 22, 2012

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Nov 25, 2014
  • Eil_1 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A well-written story about slavery - a Negro family who survive the pain and humiliations through their own tenacity to love and loyalty. Also the story of indentured white servants; e.g., Lavinia.

Oct 06, 2014
  • scrubble4 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Enjoyed this group of well developed characters and how they addressed the onslaughts life hurled at them. Despite and throughout the family group (as diversified a sense of family as I have ever encountered) supported and sustained each other.

I looked to see if Ms Grissom had written other novels but she has not. Too bad. I would have loved to read them.

Aug 12, 2014
  • JCLKinsleyR rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book transported me to my vacation in Charleston, SC and to the Gone with the Wind movie set. That is where the glitz and glamour ended. The story reveals all the characters of a southern plantation, the good and the bad. This book will make you appreciate, hurt and break your heart for the indentured servants, the slaves and the female characters.

Jul 12, 2014
  • Taz12658 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Great Book! Loved it within the first few pages. Considering it for our next book club.

Jul 09, 2014
  • jecross rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the best books I have read in a long time!!!

May 03, 2014
  • lledomik rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A great book that had me hooked in the first couple pages and kept me enthralled all the way to the end.

Feb 05, 2014
  • sasie rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very high interest and fast pace story.

Feb 04, 2014
  • TulsaTimeTraveler rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An all-time favorite in our book group, this book focuses on racial relations in the time of slavery in an intensely moving way. Even though I read this book a few years ago, the warmth of the kitchen house lingers with me still.

Jan 28, 2014
  • helenmatt rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Found this book to be fascinating and interestingly told. Really made me feel like I was there, and I feel a relationship with the characters! Well told!

Dec 21, 2013
  • becker rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is a story about a little Irish girl who is orphaned while sailing to America and becomes an indentured servant for a family that takes her in. It is very interesting to see how her role in the household changes as she becomes an adult and the book deals with her struggle between the two conflicting worlds she lives in. I enjoyed this and would recommend it.

View All Comments


Add a Summary

Oct 10, 2013
  • EuphoniaCarstairs rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Historical fiction depicting the lives of slaves in the pre-Civil War South, and the life of a woman who arrives in the U.S. from Ireland as an indentured servant and grows up to become the mistress of the plantation where she first arrived as an indentured servant.

Main characters Lavinia, Belle, Mama Mae, Papa, Marshall, Rankin.
A page turner, like a British Victorian novel, captures voice of the times, good on black dialect, insights into situation of slaves vis-a-vis the white masters, sex relations, & on plight of indentured Irish.


Add a Quote

Jul 24, 2014
  • REVYCHELL rated this: 5 stars out of 5.


May 29, 2013
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” –John F Kennedy


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.

Find it at NYPL


Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

The Kitchen House
Grissom, Kathleen
The Kitchen House

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.

I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings



Powered by BiblioCommons.
app07 Version gurli Last updated 2014/12/09 10:52