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The Home-Maker

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  985 ratings  ·  193 reviews
Although this novel first appeared in 1924, it deals in an amazingly contemporary manner with the problems of a family in which both husband and wife are oppressed and frustrated by the roles they are expected to play. Evangeline Knapp is the perfect, compulsive housekeeper, while her husband, Lester, is a poet and a dreamer. Suddenly, through a nearly fatal accident, thei ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Academy Chicago Publishers (first published 1924)
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 ·  985 ratings  ·  193 reviews

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Katie Lumsden
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourites so far this year. I loved the exploration of 1920s gender roles, and the writing is smooth and brilliant, her capture of character's voices superb. ...more
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Oh Lester, let me do that! The idea of your darning stockings! It's dreadful enough your having to do the housework!'

'Eva darned them a good many years,' he said, with some warmth, 'and did the housework. Why shouldn't I?' He looked at her hard and went on 'Do you know what you are saying to me...? You are telling me that you really think that home-making is a poor, mean, cheap job beneath the dignity of anybody who can do anything else.'

Mattie shouted indignantly, 'Lester Knapp, how dare you s
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
The Home-Maker written by Dorothy Canfield Fisher was among the ten bestselling novels in the US in 1924 and in Britain the 'Daily Express' called it one of the best novels of the year.
This thought -provoking book tells the story of Evangeline Knapp who is an obessively house-proud mother and home-maker.She works through her lists of jobs everyday but without realising it,she is bored and very unhappy.She thinks she is a good and devoted mother, but worries about the house work more than the emo
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The very, very best novels leave me struggling for words, quite unable to capture what it is that makes them so extraordinary.

The Home-Maker is one of those novels. It was published in the 1920s, it is set in small town American, and yet it feels extraordinarily relevant.

It is the story of the Knapp family – Evangeline, Lester and their children, Helen, Henry and Stephen. A family that was unhappy, because both parents were trapped in the roles that society dictated a mother and a father shoul
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty progressive story as it was written in 1924. It examines gender roles and societal norms; whether home-making can or should be enough; how to raise children. It raises issues of emotional neglect in children. It’s funny: I’m a teacher and in the staff room, we often bemoan parents who stick their children in front of the tv or a computer as a common form of childcare- where children are not engaged with or conversations are not had- and say ‘it never used to be like this’. But ...more
Fiona MacDonald
Firstly; I can understand that is is quite a shocking book of its time. The idea of a woman being employed whilst the father stays at home looking after his children and making the dinner. However, that didn't change the fact that I found it a pretty hard slog. I didn't seem to be getting any closer to finishing despite reading countless pages at each sitting. I do feel the book length could've been shortened. I'm giving it three stars because some pages were wonderfully written, witty, warm and ...more
Canadian Reader
I read slightly more than a third of this novel, originally published in 1924. It concerns 40ish Evangeline Knapp who performs her housewifely duties intensely and aggressively. Meals are on the table at the designated hour, the Knapp house is meticulously kept, the furniture is tastefully made over (with beautiful donated fabric) and smartly arranged in spite of the family’s poverty, the children’s special health needs are attended to . . . and Evangeline is completely and utterly miserable in ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I discovered ‘The Home-Maker’ by Dorothy Canfield Fisher through the review of Nymeth from the Things Mean a Lot. I loved the basic premise of the book and couldn’t resist getting it. I started reading it a few days back and finished it in a couple of sittings. Here is what I think.

‘The Home-Maker’ is about a family and the interesting consequences of what happens when traditional gender roles are reversed. Evangeline Knapp is the mother who is a perfectionist. She likes her house to be spotless
To me, it is a sacrosanct and personal book. It touched those parts of my soul I had thought that were too personal to find them somewhere else (e.g. in a novel).

In the copy, I have borrowed on LibriVox was also an article by Dorothy Canfield, published in the same year as the novel, entitled "Marital Relations". These two publications created an important message for all of us.

What we ought to realize about marriage is, first of all, that, like every other human relationship, it is a problem th
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Home-maker, as has been mentioned numerous times, was way ahead of it's time. It is about Eva Knapp and her husband Lester. Eva stays at home to look after the children, while Lester is an account keeper in a local department store. Both are miserable in their roles and make family life miserable too. When an accident forces Eva to work in the store while Lester stays at home with the children, they both come thrive in their new roles, and their children start to thrive also. But can it last ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm impressed with DCF -- her thinking was ahead of the times. This was written in the early 1920s, just about 100 years ago, yet much of it still rings true. She had a doctorate in Romance languages from Columbia University which she must have earned not long after the turn of the century, maybe c 1904 (at which time she would have been 25).

About the time this book came out, she wrote an article entitled, 'Marital Relations' which was published in the Los Angeles Examiner. In it, one sentence i
Fisher is best known today for the children's book Understood Betsy, which I read and liked a few years ago, but she also wrote many novels for adults. This one is a Persephone reprint -- I should just eventually buy everything they've reprinted, as I haven't disliked one yet.

Evangeline Knapp is a smart, organized, determined woman, stuck at home in a role she despises; she loves her children, but she can't seem to sympathize with them, and her passion for cleanliness and organization has becom
Beth Bonini
The Home-Maker completely subverts the expectations that will undoubtedly be raised by its title and publishing date (1924).

The radical, revolutionary idea at the heart of this book is that a man, not a woman, might be better suited to the real work of the home. For Fisher carefully differentiates, in the unfolding of her storyline, between being competent or even gifted at home management -- and having the particular grace of understanding children and raising them lovingly. In the first chapt
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How this book has slipped through the cracks and evaded notice is beyond me. Possibly on the surface it seems a simple story? It doesn't really have fireworks, and yet, within it are the contentions and battles of millions of marriages and families - the question of roles vs. identity, of what makes a man masculine or a woman feminine, and how our perception of what is expected of us warps the truth of what is necessary for the thriving of our relationships and families. And there, I just made i ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read from for group discussion.

Oh how wonderful. I read it all today, over a few sittings. So relevant! I always think of suffragettes and then a big gap and then Betty Friedan when I think of pioneering feminists, but here's a wonderful look at the issues from 1924. Thank you everyone who chose this for our BotM!

There are a couple of casually racist remarks that don't mean anything, and a few references to obsolete artifacts of century-old culture, but most of it is spot-on huma
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really really wanted to enjoy this (I had high hopes for this one so I’m afraid that might have blurred my vision a bit), but it fell quite flat for me. I didn’t really connect to the characters and I felt like the story really struggled with pacing, structure and character arcs. The premise was great, the product was less so.
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book has made me feel so many things. I am definitely still processing. Published in the 20's, so much is still relevant today. Beautifully written and written where you have a full understanding of Lester and Eva. I have only heard of Dorothy Canfield Fisher this year with reading Understood Betsy. I don't know how it is possible she is not a household name or read in schools. How has a book like this or an author like her slipped through the cracks?

Just as wonderful the second tim
Mary Durrant
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a gem of a book which was way ahead of it's time with a father Lester, looking after his children while his wife Eva went out to work.
I loved it and can highly recommend it.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent. From the first scene where Evangeline scrubs the kitchen floor with a vengeance, I was hooked. Of course this is a book with a message, but what's wrong with that, as Dorothy Perkins Gilman used to say. What Canfield has at heart to demonstrate is that some women find raising children a crushing bore, no matter how much they love their offspring, while some men are natural home-makers and nurturers of children. This idea, which was utterly revolutionary in 1924, and is still not as ...more
M. H.
"The story of what happens when a wife and mother puts all her efforts into the house, and not the home. Fortunately, irreparable damage is averted when Lester, the father, takes over the role of homemaker." Reads the recommendation in The Gentle Art of Domesticity for The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. With that introduction the plot was pretty simple to guess. The real genius of Fisher is her spot-on psychology. She infuses each character of this little world with thoughts so much thei ...more
Sep 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
What a charming book! For one, it was ahead of its time--depicting a family in which the woman much more enjoyed being in the workforce, the man better at being a stay-at-home Dad. Fisher was a Vermont writer and wrote extensively about Montessori school and childrearing. She didn't see "The Home-maker" as a feminist book, but as a children's book--namely, that it represented children, their personhood, their feelings, more than it was out to make a statement about gender roles of women or men. ...more
Elena Sala
THE HOME-MAKER (1924) is an interesting novel about gender roles and how they affect families. When published it was very much ahead of its time, however, the subjects Canfield Fisher explores in this book are still relevant today.
It starts as the grim, depressing story of an unhappy family until the ruthlessly efficient mother and wife is forced to let her husband become a house-maker when he is injured and becomes confined to a wheelchair and she becomes a working mother.
Canfield Fisher explor
Giulia (moonrise.bookdom)
I really liked this story, for it really makes you think about traditional family roles and how society tends to reject deviations from standards, often pressuring people into being what they're not.

The writing style is very rich in describing the inner thoughts of the characters, in a way that reminded me of Virginia Woolf. Sometimes these thoughts are dragged too long in my opinion; nevertheless, it is a very powerful and touching story, I loved to follow the unexpected evolution of the Knapp
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars for least he owns his hypocrisy while Eva is quite unconscious of itamd thinks she is a great mother which she is not...she is a dutiful mothet but Lester is tbe true heart of the family and it did irritate me a lot that Eva never acknowledged the superiority of his skill with the children, his achievments..its so unfair..just what attitude people have toward all homemakers generally I affection maybe but respect not always..

Jane Dugger
I have no idea how I heard about this nearly 100 year old book but I am glad I did.

I vacillated between 3.5 & 4 stars for quite a while. There is nothing "remarkable" about this book unless you count how your heart expands with love & pride as the characters evolve. As well, the writing is excellent.

This is a thoughtful book about a family coping with change and finding one's place. And isn't that one of the trademarks of life no matter what the year is? Often people are pigeon holed into pre-e
C. Janelle
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to C. Janelle by: Shelf Love (Blog)
One of the linchpins of the utopian society Plato describes in his Republic is the notion that each person should do the job for which she or he is best suited (and that there is a job for which each individual is best suited). This is one of the foundations of societal harmony. In The Home-Maker, Canfield Fisher shows us first what life is like for a couple engaged in the roles society would have them play, and then in the roles for which they as individuals are best suited. The difference in t ...more
First published in 1924, The Home-maker is light years ahead of its time in its depiction of gender roles. ‘Ahead of its time’ has been employed to describe this American novel so often it now seems trite, but it remains utterly apt. Western culture still has a great deal of work to do to allow for the model Canfield Fisher set forth in this compelling narrative.

Lester and Evangeline Knapp love each other and their three children, and yet they are wholly miserable in the roles society has prescr
Marina Sofia
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is so amazingly ahead of its time! Yet it's also sobering to see that we are still having some of those discussions and thoughts nearly a hundred years later.
Full review here: https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress....
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Persephone Book, another critical study of gender roles and expectations in the earlier decades of the 20th century. This book delivers exactly what it promises: a lovely story with an undercurrent of criticism of male and female roles.

Dorothy Canfield-Fisher claimed the novel to be one focused on children and what is best for them, refusing to label it feminist. Still, feminist ideology is very much present in the novel; most interestingly a very modern brand of feminism, one acknowledg
Anna Dowdall
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an odd book...of its time yet strangely modern, hovering between sentiment and trenchant socio-economic analysis. Not everything is resolved at the end by any means, and the author doesn't even try. It doesn't fit into a neat category and perhaps for that very reason is an energetic and compulsive read. ...more
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Also wrote under the name Dorothy Canfield.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (February 17, 1879 – November 9, 1958) was an educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author in the early decades of the twentieth century. She strongly supported women's rights, racial equality, and lifelong education. Eleanor Roosevelt named her one of the ten most influential women in the United States.

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