Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book review: Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom

By 1830, it’s been 20 years since young Jamie Pyke fled his Virginia plantation home. Now known as James Burton, a respected businessman and ornithologist, he mixes in genteel Philadelphia society.  But he holds some dangerous secrets. Despite his fair complexion, his mother was a slave, and he escaped Virginia under violent circumstances.

When the free black man who once saved James’ life begs a favor—to find his son, Pan, who was kidnapped by slave-traders—James feels obligated to act, even though returning to the South could prove deadly. In addition, his world is already crumbling; his relationship with the woman he loves is at risk.

Grissom’s highly anticipated sequel to The Kitchen House (2010) combines a fast-paced rescue mission and James’ journey toward self-acceptance. Although she occasionally relies on tried-and-true character types, Grissom spins a dramatic story line—the suspense never wavers—and captures the racially tense times. The bravery and unanticipated kindnesses James and Pan encounter in their quests for freedom make this an emotionally rewarding novel. Expect strong book club demand.

Glory Over Everything is published by Simon & Schuster in hardcover next Tuesday ($25.99, 384pp).  This review first appeared in Booklist's March 1st issue.

I reviewed The Kitchen House in 2010, and it was one of my favorite reads for that year.  While I feel the sequel can stand alone, I felt that it didn't quite offer the same level of originality or character development.  Still, a good read, and one that should prove popular.  The Kitchen House was a NYT bestseller and book club favorite.  Published initially as a trade paperback, it was later republished in a hardback gift edition, and you don't see that a lot.

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