We had a speaker at our writers' group last night--Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House. This was the second time Calvin and I had the pleasure of hearing her speak--"the pleasure of," such a trite phrase yet so apt in this instance. Kathleen is that rare person who exudes an inner peace, a calmness in this tumultuous world. One can't help but feel the honest and sweet pull of her gentle spirit.
Kathleen shared snippets of her long trip to publication: agents who asked to read her full manuscript and then did not respond for a year; agents who exhibited an over-abundant dose of "major attitude"; a literary agency that signed her, giving her account to an agent who after many months claimed she'd never received the manuscript; and those endless rewrites that plague all writers. Through it all, Kathleen never gave up. She hung in there because she believed in her book and the story it told.
I've read The Kitchen House, finding it rich with slave narratives. Each chapter is written either in the voice of Lavinia, the white indentured servant, or Belle, a slave. One is quickly drawn into the lives and thoughts of these multi-layered characters. We are privy to the workings and lives of slaves in an honest and compelling way. As a lover of history, I enjoyed the benefits of Kathleen's meticulous research. Put this book on your "must read" list for the summer.