Thursday, January 6, 2011

Book Report: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

(Image from Barnes and Noble)

I cannot believe it!!! Two books in a row made it into my top favorite books ever!!! THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom was absolutely phenomenal! I’ve had it on my “to read” list for quite awhile but a friend of mind recommended I read it ASAP after she read it and THE HELP. She liked THE KITCHEN HOUSE even better than THE HELP! Honestly, I didn’t think anything could top THE HELP when it pertains to the subject of black slaves working for white masters. I can’t decide which I like best, because I think I like them equally. While THE KITCHEN HOUSE is about black slaves like THE HELP, they are two very different books with two very different storylines. If I were to be quite honest, I would say that THE HELP is very fluffy compared to THE KITCHEN HOUSES’ deep and detailed content. Actually, this book’s main character is a white indentured servant who works WITH the black slaves working FOR the white masters which really gives it a totally different twist.

The author wrote this book so amazingly that I had everything vividly pictured in my mind! My attention was grabbed with the first chapter… and hasn’t ended even though I am done reading the book. The characters are extremely captivating, the storyline so believable and detailed you almost think you are truly experiencing all of your five senses. The book is fast moving and ever changing and definitely was not predictable at all. There are a lot of characters in this book… so many, that I had to go back and re-read spots in the first couple chapters to make sure I had everyone straight, but as you go through the book, each character is absolutely necessary and you will enjoy them all in different ways.

Per a Q&A on, Kathleen Grissom shared that every time one of the slaves, Belle, would bake molasses cake in the kitchen house, she would crave it. Using old recipes as a baseline, the author and her duaghter came up with the following recipe which she has shared with her readers. I am definitely going to try it!!

Simple Molasses Cake
½ cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup milk
1 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 dashes ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inchsquare baking pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and the molasses. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add each of these alternately to the butter mixture, beating well between additions. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

My bookclub picked THE HELP and THE KITCHEN HOUSE for our next meeting. We will be comparing and contrasting these two books. They are sure to bring us a lot of conversation. Can’t wait! In fact, I think I am going to make the molasses cake for the meeting.

I highly recommend this book. I had to wait a few days to write a review because I was speechless at first. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a long, long time. Lawd, I don’t need to say anything more except HURRY UP AND READ THIS BOOK (and THE HELP too)!!


  1. Thanks a lot! Yet another book I have to add to the list. Where am I gonna find the time to read all these books?? ;-)

  2. Thank you, Shannon, for that great review! It makes me feel so good to know that others feel the same way about the story that I do. The characters all came to me, fully themselves. I just had to get out of the way to let them tell their story.
    Kathleen Grissom

  3. Shannon- another amazing review! I am super excited to read this! I know I will love this book as much as you! :) Love You!

  4. Wow Kathleen! Thank you SO much for taking the time to comment on my review of your book!!! Your book deserves way more credit that I am capable of writing about! Can't wait for your next novel (hoping there is a next)!!! Shannon

  5. Shannon, what I loved was that you "felt" the story. That is as much praise as anyone can give.:)

    As for another book, I had every intention of writing another story entirely, but Jamie's voice wouldn't leave me alone. When I finally gave him opportunity to speak...well...I can only say, what a story he had to tell! I don't know much of it yet, but I can only say that I am as taken up with this new work as I was with TKH. Wish me luck!

  6. Oh Kathleen, I am beyond thrilled to hear that Jamie is telling his story! I absolutely cannot wait!

    I have to tell you, I found myself missing Belle and Lavinia and Mama today. :( Sometimes I find it so hard when I finish reading a book. I think to myself, "Now what??" Totally the case with THE KITCHEN HOUSE. And today I was looking through your website (do you blog?) and I was so thoroughly enjoyed looking through the photos you've shared! Thanks for that!

    Wishing you lots of luck!

  7. I don't blog, Shannon. I don't know how other writers find the time. Of course it might have something to do with me being such a slow writer. But you can always reach me through my website email if you have any questions. It is listed under contacts. :)