The kitchen house is a beautifully written, powerful and moving novel.
This emotional and heart-wrenching story is told from two viewpoints, Lavinia, an Irish indentured servant, and her adoptive mother, a black slave. The Kitchen House takes place in Virginia, on Tall Oaks Plantation, during the late1700s and early1800’s.
Lavinia was only seven-years-old when she was bought by Captain Pike. Her parents had died during the voyage to America from Ireland on one of his ships. Captain Pike placed the traumatized child in the care of his secret daughter, Belle, one of his Kitchen House black slaves. Lavinia quickly grew to love her new adopted family. It wasn’t until ten years later that she would realize what it truly meant to be owned, black, and working, in the fields of a rich man’s plantation.
Captain Pike, was not an evil slave master, but his overseer was. Captain Pike was rarely home, so he didn’t have a true picture of what was happening on his plantation. If he did, he would have stopped the inhuman treatment of his slaves by the overseer. And he certainly would have never allowed his son Marshall to be taken advantage of and abused by the tutor he hired. But Captain Pike wasn’t around, and these things did occur.
At age seventeen, Lavinia was freed from her indentured servanthood. She quickly married into the family and became the mistress of Tall Oaks Plantation. Her goal was to make a better life for the slaves. She had always treated them like family. Unfortunately, as a mistress, she was no longer permitted to treat black slaves as equals. Any kindnesses she showed towards them were swiftly met with a harsh beating from her husband. The slaves of Tall Oaks didn’t abandon Lavinia during this dark period of her life. They stood by her until she was no longer just a beaten down shell of a person.
The kitchen house is not for the faint-hearted. Each page is filled with raw emotion, as it portrays for the reader, a realistic view of slavery, in all of its hateful, brutal ugliness.
5 out of 5 stars~Review by Peg Glover