Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Set in the deep South of America, this beautifully written and obviously well researched novel is narrated by its two main characters Belle and Lavinia.
It explores the issues of slavery and indenture, colour, love, truth, lies, loyalty and secrets and the at times horrifying power that Plantation Owners held over the lives of others. The language that Kathleen Grissom uses even when the characters are in the depths of despair is so vivid, so moving, that you feel as though you are there with them, treading in their footsteps, sharing their pain, their hardships, deep sorrows and lilting joys, wonderful friendships and you surely understand why some people went mad. There are parts of this book that are not particularly pleasant and characters that are so complex and devise that simply ticking the like/hate box isn't a possibility. Conversely you find yourself wanting a spoonful of the food that comes from the Kitchen House because gee it smells good.

The bonds of Family and Love no matter how strained, divisive and improbable are richly explored and so are the consequences of power, especially that whiled by Plantation Owners be it good, be it bad. The squelching of the Human Spirit or the nurturing of it is explored and as all good novels in this genre should do you actually want to know more, to visit a Plantation or an associated Historical Society would be Divine, I have made notes from her sources in case the possibility ever arises.

All in all this first novel is superb and her next is eagerly anticipated.

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