Although The Kitchen House takes place on a tobacco plantation in Virginia during the era of slavery, it was more about challenging traditional understandings of what constitutes a family. Lavinia is only seven years old when both of her parents die, her brother is sold away, and she is brought to the Pyke’s plantation to work as a servant in the kitchen. She is clearly different from the rest of Captain Pyke’s “properties.” She’s a white girl from Ireland with fiery red hair and freckles on her face. However, throughout her childhood and even into young adulthood, Lavinia remain largely oblivious to the different social positions of whites and blacks. While her innocent ignorance enables her to regard Captain Pyke’s slaves as her own family, it also proves to be a double-edged sword.
Overall, I highly recommend this book as a must read. You will not be disappointed by how well the characters and their relationships with one another are developed. You may even find yourself thinking in the dialect used by some of the characters!