When I was offered the opportunity to review The Kitchen House I did a bit of research on it. Set in the late 1700’s on a plantation in the American South, I had a good idea what the focus of the book would be. I’m a bit leery of books about slavery – I’ve read quite a few and naturally the stories are not happy ones.
I try to accept review copies of books that I’m fairly certain I’ll like. Who wants to spend time and effort writing a negative review after reading a book they didn’t like? It happens occasionally anyway – one can never be sure before reading the book how it’ll turn out. But I needn’t have worried about The Kitchen House; it was an absolutely wonderful reading experience.
What I liked best about Kathleen Grissom's book were the characters. They became people I wanted to know. When something good happened I was happy for them and sad when a not-so-great event occurred. The author made fictional characters seem so real that they jumped off the page. More than once I was brought to tears and felt real sympathy for these people. Most of the characters were complex personalities dealing with complex problems. Though the main antagonist (and it could be argued just who the main antagonist is) is not likeable, the character was written with sympathy and while I did not excuse his behavior, I could easily understand the reasons behind his conduct.
The other great thing about The Kitchen House is the plot. My heart was pounding after reading the first page. I didn’t know exactly what was going on but the small bit that I read gave me a powerful sense of fear, anxiety and curiosity. From there on, the story developed into the drama, hardship and joy a close-knit family experiences in the slave quarters of a large plantation. The story moved quickly and I was so engrossed I couldn’t believe it when it ended. I still want to spend time with these people!
I loved The Kitchen House and wholeheartedly recommend it for book clubs – I think it would generate very lively discussions.