The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom

"The Kitchen House" is a different sort of look at Southern life below-stairs: it is told in the voices of Lavinia, an indentured white servant, and Belle, a black slave.

Lavinia comes to the Tall Oaks plantation as a small child, and sees the black slaves as her family. She does not begin to truly comprehend the differences between her situation and theirs until she gets a little older.

The author has taken an unusual opportunity here: she shows what the life of a white servant was like in order to contrast it with the lives of slaves, rather than showing the upstairs/downstairs view that one typically sees in stories like this.

The tale is set in the period from 1790-1815, so it is also not the typical antebellum tale of the South. We see things through the eyes of a relatively new nation as well.

The author's research is impeccable, down to the types of food eaten and what various houses would have looked like depending on where the inhabitants lived.

I finished this book in two nights because I did not want to put it down. One of the best I have read this year.