MARCH 2016 ;e Costco Connection 73
By Judi Ketteler
WHEN SHE WAS trying to get The
Kitchen House published, no matter
how many rejections Kathleen Grissom
received, she simply wouldn’t take no for
But it didn’t start out that way.
In fact, she tried to stuff the beginnings of the manuscript in a drawer. “I
didn’t want to research slavery,” Grissom
tells The Costco Connection from her
home in Virginia. She knew the tale
would have gruesome moments, and it
seemed more than she wanted to tackle.
But the story wouldn’t take no for an answer.
So she spent five years researching and writing
the story of Lavinia McCarten, a little Irish orphan
girl who finds herself in the New World, indentured
to a Virginia tobacco plantation. Belle—the illegitimate daughter of the master—becomes her surrogate mother, and the slaves who serve in the kitchen
house (where the food for the “big house” is prepared) become Lavinia’s surrogate family as she
works among them and comes to love them deeply.
When Lavinia’s servitude eventually ends, she finds
herself straddling two worlds.
Once Grissom finished writing, she spent
another five years trying to find an agent. Her
tenacity paid off: After being published in 2010,
The Kitchen House became a New York Times best-seller. Grissom’s follow-up novel, Glory Over
Signed book gıveaway
COSTCO HAS 50 signed copies of Kathleen Grissom’s
novel The Kitchen House to give away. To enter, go to
NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT OR OPT-IN OF ANY KIND IS
NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES.
Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Sweepstakes is
sponsored by Simon &Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020. Open to legal residents of the U.S. (except
Puerto Rico) who are age 18 or older at the time of entry. One
entry per household. Entries must be received before the April
issue is available online, which will happen around March 26,
2016. Winners will be randomly selected and noti;ed by mail
on or before May 1, 2016. The value of the prize is $28. Void
where prohibited. Winners are responsible for all applicable
federal, state and local taxes. Odds of winning depend on the
number of eligible entries received. Employees of Costco or
Simon & Schuster and their families are not eligible.
Pennie Clark Ianniciello,
Costco book buyer
AS CLICHÉD AS it may
sound, books really are the
most affordable and
convenient way to travel—
from real to imaginary
places and through time.
This month’s book buyer’s
pick, The Kitchen House,
by Kathleen Grissom,
begins in 1791, and shines
a light on a time when
possessing slaves and
indentured servants was a
Lavinia, an Irish orphan
placed in the kitchen house
to work as an indentured
servant, befriends the
slaves who work there.
However, as she gets older,
her fair skin allows her to
move to the main house,
where she struggles with
straddling both worlds.
Reading The Kitchen
House (Item #1041926,
available in early March)
has me ready for Grissom’s
follow-up novel, Glory
Over Everything: Beyond
the Kitchen House, which
will be available on April 5.
For more book picks,
see page 75.
Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House,
is due out in April.
Grissom was living on a 27-acre
Virginia farm when she wrote The
Kitchen House. The setting of the farm
is what inspired the novel, but Grissom
calls the story itself “a spiritual gift.”
Once she decided to tell the story in
the voice of Lavinia (with brief interludes from Belle), she simply asked the
little girl, “Where are you?” “I saw her
coming up the drive, and I picked up
my pencil and started to follow
behind,” Grissom says. “Each of the characters came
to me fully formed, like beloved relatives.”
The character development may have come easy,
but Grissom spent a great deal of time researching
the time period (the story begins in 1791) and the
institution of slavery. Growing up in Canada, she
didn’t learn about that aspect of American history. “I
had to immerse myself,” she says. She visited as many
plantations as she could to get a sense of the setting,
perused history books to get a sense of the context
and read slave narratives to get the dialect down.
As The Kitchen House was making its way
through editing, Grissom began another book—a
novel about Native woman Crow Mary. But Crow
Mary was nowhere to be found. Grissom explains,
“A veil dropped down, and Jamie—a character from
The Kitchen House—was standing in front of it. He
was letting me know in no uncertain terms that I
had to write his story.” She obliged, and that story
became Glory Over Everything.
Grissom has a wonderful sense of humor about
these revelations, but, in reality, she’s not kidding. She
accesses these stories through a spiritual force she
doesn’t wholly understand. She doesn’t question it,
though. “My job is simply to write it down,” she says.
As for the emotional upheaval she feared from the
start of developing The Kitchen House It was there,
but she learned to manage it. “Sometimes I would
pace and cry, because I knew something bad was
coming in the story. I would say, ‘I don’t want to do
this,’ ” she says. But then she would think about the
people she had read about in her research. “I
would think: If they could live through this, I
can write about it. It’s as if they gave me
their courage.” C
The author of two books about sewing,
Judi Ketteler is at work on her first young
The Kitchen House tackles identity,
resilience and freedom
A spiritual gift
COSTCO PHOTO STUDIO