The Kitchen House at Ruth’s House

04 Apr The Kitchen House at Ruth’s House

Hello, Dear LOL Followers!

Yippee! It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means tonight brings an evening we LOL’ers wait for (or sometimes scramble to)…our monthly meeting. At 7pm, we make our way to the house of Ruth (far left) & I’m ready.

I’ve finished reading Ruth’s selection, the Kitchen House, been for a run this morning (in preparation for all the yummy food that awaits us and of course, the free-flowing wine), & made a stir-fry for my family.

On Free-For-All-Friday I’ll give you the run down of our night, including what was said, sipped, and savored, but for now I offer a few notes on the finale of this exciting novel.

I mentioned in a previous blog how to some degree, this wasn’t an easy book to write about; not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because it’s non-stop stuff going on and most of it is so central to the plot, keeping the novel moving and the reader turning pages, that if I blab on about events, I’d be spoiling the read for those of you not with us yet. Though the novel is told in alternating voices–Lavinia’s and Belle’s–Lavinia’s sections are much longer and she rises as the main protagonist in my mind. There are also a large number of characters including Lavinia, her opium-addicted mother-in-law, Miss Martha, her abusive husband, Marshall, and more…and then there’s Belle and the beloved family of black slaves who raised her, then took Lavinia in as a child. Clearly it is the black folks in this novel who conduct themselves with honor and decency, struggling to keep the kitchen house operational and their families all together. There are so many key characters, that I found myself sometimes turning back to recall who was who. Now, which of the twins is married to Eddy again? And how many boys has Lucy given birth to, etc.

It’s an epic book and as such requires so much more than I’m saying here. With so much history, so much conflict, so many characters, it’s an ambitious project that sometimes felt rushed. An awful lot of loose ends get tied up rather quickly and maybe a little conveniently? A great many people are eliminated by death but that’s probably realistic of the time. What I did find fascinating, is how this story came to the author, Kathleen Grissom.

If you pick up this novel,  when you’ve finished, be sure to check out the conversation with Grissom at the back of the book. It’s very interesting! Ms. Grissom explains that the idea for this book came to her after she found a map that marked Negro Hill while renovating a plantation tavern. The author suggests she was guided to write this book by spirits who lived long ago–and entrusted her to tell the story. She researched extensively in order to be accurate about the history, including visiting several museums in Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg, and the University of Virginia. The names of the black slaves in the book are real, derived from lists the author located. The dialect is authentic too, taken from research of slave narratives. But the story itself? That was divinely driven.

Check out this link to a blog I just found, “The Literate Houswife”. It appears to be a very popular blog/book review site by a gal named Jennifer. Here she offers a fabulous look at Kathleen Grissom talking about the Kitchen House! Jennifer also offers up a great looking blog roll, endorsing other book blogs. I’m going to have to make some time to peruse those too!

Looking forward to fellowship and sips tonight.

See you Friday!