Susann's Reviews > The Home-Maker

The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
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Jul 07, 09

bookshelves: persephone
Recommended for: I can see why Persephone says this is popular among book groups.
Read in July, 2009, read count: 1

Mom may keep the cleanest house in town but, in doing so, she makes her whole family and herself miserable. Dad is a poet/dreamer, completely unsuited for his office job. All seems lost until an Event happens which causes the roles to reverse.

Fisher (a champion of the Montessori method) shows us how we can each blossom when given the opportunity to pursue our own paths. It's pure delight to watch the Knapp family grow, and to watch Lester watching his children and nurturing each one individually. As a new reality sets in, though, it's disturbing to see how society's mores might ruin everything the family has struggled to achieve.

Fisher's slightly didactic bent gives me a pain, although it's not nearly as strong here as it is in her children's book, Understood Betsy. Plus, the strengths of the book push this aspect into the background and let me focus instead on how the story just sweeps me along and on how Fisher's narrative style makes me understand that Mom is more than just Mean Mommy and Dad is more than just Drippy Dad. By using alternating points-of-view from each member of the family, Fisher masterfully shows us how rationalizations can run - and ruin - our lives. I've been wavering between 3 and 4 stars, but writing this review and remembering how I ignored my Sunday chores to read almost all of this in one great chunk has led me to give it the extra bump.

I haven't even touched on the historical and sociological importance of the book, but should at least mention that it's set in the early 1920s, and has just as much relevance among so many families today.

Favorite sentence: "You'd better get to bed now. I'll be up to rub the turpentine and lard on your chest by the time you're undressed."

Bought at Persephone Books in London.
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