November 2010 Archives

The Kitchen House

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Click for availability and more information The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom
The American south antebellum world has always had an attractive and strong lure for both authors and readers alike. Kathleen Grissom, with her novel The Kitchen House, has made yet another addition to that genre with a twist that makes the story a unique reading experience. Her main character, Lavinia, is a white indentured servant who ends up serving the Pyke family at Twelve Oaks in southern Virginia. Lavinia arrives as a small child and is put under the care of the household slaves, who quickly become her beloved family. Even though she is indentured, her skin color creates a different path on the plantation for her. While her heart lies with the slaves, she is forced to adapt to a different reality as she grows up. The narration of The Kitchen House bounces between Lavinia's voice and that of Belle, a slave who runs the kitchen house. Set in the early 19th Century, Grissom skillfully writes of life at Twelve Oaks with the grotesque horrors of the slave system effecting so much of the dramatic developments. The presence of Lavinia makes the story different from so many other novels of the antebellum south. The Kitchen House is highly recommended and the Touchtone Book edition in the Greenwich Library collection contains an interview with Grissom that is very interesting. She tells how she came to write and conduct her research for this book. Interestingly, two readers of The Kitchen House who were encouraged to read it by this reviewer had the same reaction as the reviewer after finishing the book. All are hoping Grissom writes a sequel as the story ends in 1810 and there is great interest in what happens to these characters in the Civil War.

Elephant Run

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Click for availability and more information Elephant Run, by Roland Smith
It's 1941 and Nick's mother sends him away from war-torn London to his British father's plantation in Burma. But the War follows Nick to Burma when the Japanese invade. Nick's father and others are taken to a prison camp, while Nick and his friend Mya are held as prisoners on the plantation. Nick and Mya plan a daring escape with the help of elephants, risking their lives to save Nick's father and Mya's brother.

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