On the Backlist: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Sometimes my Backlist posts can be difficult to write, either because I didn’t keep very good notes on books before I was blogging, or because it takes a long time for inspiration to strike as I’m looking through my list of older reads. Looking at my list from 2011 today, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t yet recommended The Kitchen House.

If you like historical fiction, excellent writing, beautifully developed characters, and plotlines we haven’t all read a million times before (um, who doesn’t?), The Kitchen House is one of the best recs I can make. Lavinia’s story is fresh and fascinating and sometimes distressing. I found it impossible not to sympathize with her plight. Grissom’s characters are complex; disturbingly well-rounded, to the point that I found myself understanding–if not agreeing with–the antagonists in the story. For me, that’s a sign of profoundly great writing. The novel grapples with themes of race, birthright, love and slavery, and handles them all with grace.

My only qualm with this book was that it wrapped a bit quickly for my preferences, but I appreciated it immensely. Some mature themes, so maybe prep your kids if they’re going to read this one. 4.5 stars.

First Line: “There was a strong smell of smoke, and new fear fueled me.”


How about you? Have you read The Kitchen House? What did you think?


4 Stars

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