Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
I received an ARC of Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be published and available for purchase as of April 1st, 2016 and is a follow up story to The Kitchen House…written by the same author, published in 2010.
While Glory Over Everything is technically a follow up story or sequel to The Kitchen House, the publisher is pretty clear in the beginning that this is a stand alone novel. I agree that one can read this book without first reading The Kitchen House and not be confused, however…I highly recommend starting with The Kitchen House and then reading this.
Glory Over Everything follows the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a black slave and the master of Tall Oaks Plantation, after he escapes the plantation at the age of 13 years old and lives a life on the run. The story starts in 1830 where Jamie is living as a wealthy white man in Philadelphia high society as an artist and the owner of a successful silversmithing business. When Jamie learns that his mistress, Caroline, is pregnant he begins to worry that the secrets behind his parentage will be brought to light and that his life, as he knows it, will be over. Around the same time, Jamie learns that his young servant, Pan, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. After promising Pan’s father…who Jamie owes much of his freedom and current life to…Jamie begins a journey to a plantation in North Carolina to rescue Pan. His journey will bring forth many memories of his childhood as well as reuniting him with other people from his past. He will have to rely on the help of the very same people he’s tried to distance himself from. When Jamie finally does find Pan, he realizes that the boy is actually under the care of Sukey, another former slave from Tall Oaks Plantation. Together, Jamie and Sukey are determined to get Pan to freedom though the Underground Railroad as well as with the help of other escaped slaves.
This book was sort of a slow start for me. It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve read The Kitchen House and while I remember most of the story…I didn’t quite remember the exact details of Jamie’s young life. Luckily, at certain points in this book, the author has flashbacks to his story and it all came back to me rather quickly.
I didn’t care for Jamie as an adult at first…his chapters in the beginning of the book were slow moving for me and kind of tedious to read. Rather than the story picking up where The Kitchen House left off…Glory Over Everything starts with Jamie as an adult and he recounts his days following his escape from Tall Oaks in memory form. If the author had continued the story, still with his first person account, and kept it a chronological account of his life after Tall Oaks, I think the first half of the book wouldn’t have moved so slow for me. That being said…..I absolutely LOVED the second half of this book!
As much as I didn’t care for Jamie at the start of the book, I grew to really like him by about half way through. Then there is Pan….I absolutely loved his character from his first chapter! He is such a precocious, inquisitive and caring boy and the chapters told in his perspective were some of my favorites. I really enjoyed reading about and following up with many of the characters from The Kitchen House in this book…there was also quite a bit of needed closure in this story. The second half of Glory Over Everything was fast paced, exciting, heartbreaking and had me not wanting to put it down. Reading about the Underground Railroad and the things that escaped slaves had to endure just to get to freedom was just so disturbing and tragic.
So while this is technically a stand alone book…I do feel that a reader would get the most out of this by first starting with The Kitchen House. And…if you’ve already read The Kitchen House and loved that book as much as I did, I think you’ll definitely want to read this follow up. It’s an important story with very moving characters, based on the very real tragic history of American slavery.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I would like to thank NetGalley, Kathleen Grissom, and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read an early copy of this book.