When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
This was November’s book of the month in my online book club, but November, was chaotic, with some personal stuff going on and before I realized it was the 27th of the month, oh no, I said to my self and a couple of other members, I am not going to be able to get this read in time. Their replies were, and I quote “ You can do it, you’re a woman!” and “It’s an easy read, you’ll swallow it up!”. Yes, ladies you know who you are.
So, after this pep talk, I transferred it to my kindle and got reading and read and read and read, until around 1 AM when I finished it. So here I am writing a short review blurry eyes the next morning.
My initial thoughts are, yes, it is an easy read, that’s why I finished it in one go. It is very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it, a little different from my usual thrillers/suspense.
This is a tough book to read, we are after all, talking about slavery, and that is always a tough subject, here the author has done a good job of letting the reader know what goes on a tobacco plantations in the south of America without being too visual. It follows the story of Lavinia, who is a small 7-year-old white girl who ends up at the plantation due to a shipwreck and is taken on as an indentured servant. She starts out in the kitchen house (hence the name of the book) and ends up loads better off then that. And there is also Belle, who is the other narrator but takes a back seat. There are a lot of characters, each with intricate backgrounds and when referring to the slaves, they are mostly related to one another.
The black slaves on the plantation are fiercely united as a family, helping out in difficult moments and enjoying the better ones.
I found the relationship between Lucy, Ben and Belle to be rather “interesting” I don´t want to give anything away….It made me wonder how much things like that actually happened during those times. The book kept me going, I didn´t want to put it down, I couldn´t warm to Marshall at all, but the author gave me the impression he was a typical plantation son/owner. (ie spoiled little brat)
There was loads of mentions of the food cooked, which made my mouth water at times, yum. I did find the ending a little obvious, I had figured out what would happen before it happened. And the descriptions throughout were real, you could smell and feel the life on the plantation.
At the end of the book there is a bunch of book club questions, for the reader to ponder over and a short interview with the author which is very interesting and well worth a read. This is also posted on her website