This book started off a little slow, but picked up really quickly until I found myself not being able to put it down. Debut author Kathleen Grissom really knows how to write characters that you care about, root for, and feel for. Taking place at the height of the slave era in the south, the story was a unique window into both sides of plantation life, with the main character Lavinia often times uncomfortably straddling the inter-dependent worlds of landowners and slaves. Though the story was filled with lots of heartbreak and tense situations, the heartwarming relationships, especially between Lavinia and Mama Mae, were uplifting.
The ending was a satisfying conclusion to the story (I dislike endings that are too vague or open-ended), while still leaving the possibility for much more story yet to come. I wish she would write a sequel! But I’m trying to be respectful of the author and her creative process as I anxiously await her second book (which of course may or may not be a sequel), so many years after The Kitchen House was released.
As a devoted Anglophile, any story that takes place in England (or anywhere in the UK really) is practically guaranteed to interest me. This one was of particular interest because – as I discovered part-way through the book – the story is based on real people.
The main character, Mary Anning, was a poor girl from a working class family who lived during the Regency and Victorian Eras. Decades before Charles Darwin made his discoveries on evolution, she became a notable fossil hunter as she scoured the beaches of her hometown on the south coast of England. Despite not knowing exactly what she was finding, she succeeded in (almost) turning both the religious and scientific communities on their heads with her fossils of long-extinct creatures.
I love reading about strong women who lead interesting lives, and this one certainly fit the bill!
Keep reading! Beth
Keep reading! Beth