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The Home-Maker

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  756 ratings  ·  151 reviews
The Home-Maker is as relevant today as when it first appeared. It tells the story of Evangeline Knapp, the perfect, compulsive housekeeper, whose husband, Lester, is a poet and a dreamer. Suddenly, through a nearly fatal accident, their roles are reversed: Lester is confined to home in a wheelchair and his wife must work to support the family. The changes that take place b ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published 1999 by Persephone Books (first published 1924)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  756 ratings  ·  151 reviews


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Zanna
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
...more
Katie Lumsden
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
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.
Karen
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
...more
Emma
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
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
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
Jane
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 should
...more
Canadian
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
Vishy
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Mela
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
...more
Tania
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
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
Margaret
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
...more
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
...more
Cheryl
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read from OpenLibrary.org 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
...more
Sylvester
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jamie
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?
Mary
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.
Melissa
"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
Misha
Sep 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american, 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
Laura Moore
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book 6, 7 or even 10 stars if I could! How have I got to age 43 and 3/4 and not come across this masterpiece before? This brilliant novel, in my humble opinion, should be required reading for every parent, teacher, nursery nurse and anyone in any way connected with childcare and education (politicians included!!). It so clearly demonstrates the way that children should be brought up to explore, develop and thrive in a stimulating, loving and secure environment rather than the r ...more
siriusedward
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for Lester..at 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 guess..an affection maybe but respect not always..
..



Giulia (juliareadingdiary)
*3.5

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 Kn
...more
Charity
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Charity 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
Kim
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eva is good at housekeeping and keeping her children in line but is constantly at her wit's end trying to keep it all going; her husband hates his job. But, when a near-fatal accident means that Eva has to go out to work whilst her husband cares for the children and the home, each finds fulfilment beyond their wildest dreams.... Great story and a particularly advanced piece of thinking concerning gender roles in the family and the best way to raise children, especially considering it was written ...more
Shelley
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, gender
This is a feminist classic from nearly 100 years ago! I'm shocked that I never heard of it before and never read it until now. It really deserves to be better known by all who appreciate gender studies and gender issues.

It's the story of a man who is really more comfortable and better suited for being the home-maker, and the story of a woman who is really more comfortable and better suited for being in business. The psychological impact on the children was so intense and realistic that it broug
...more
Shatterlings
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very quiet comfortable sort of read, it’s interesting that nearly 100 years later the theme is still relevant. Men are still expected to go to work while the woman raises the children even though it might work better the other way around.
Lil's Vintage World
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
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
...more
Diana
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
...more
Mirte
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
...more
Joanne
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This is one of four Persephone books I own and the first I've read. I liked this book a lot.

This book was originally published in 1924 and is set in about that time period. Evangeline and Lester Knapp are a married couple with three children living a traditional lifestyle in which no one is happy. Lester hates his job and has a poet's mind. He detests going to a job each day and trying to sell things to people. Evangeline is a perfectionist and finds the drudgery of raising children and keeping
...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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“How he loathed his life-long slavery to the clock, that pervasive intimate negative opposed to every spontaneous impulse. "It's the clock that is the nay-sayer to life," he thought” 4 likes
“A profound depression came upon her. These were the moments in a mother's life about which nobody ever warned you, about which everybody kept a deceitful silence, the fine books and the speakers who had so much to say about the sacredness of maternity. They never told you that there were moments of arid clear sight when you saw helplessly that your children would never measure up to your standard, never would be really close to you, because they were not your kind of human beings, because they were not your children, but merely other human beings for whom you were responsible. How solitary it made you feel!” 1 likes
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