The Knapp family plays by the rules. Evangeline stays home with the three children while Lester goes off to work at his accounting job at Willing’s Emporium. But everyone in the house is miserable.
Evangeline is devoted to her duty as a wife and mother. Note the word “duty”. She makes beautiful clothes, cooks delicious meals, and takes perfect care of her home and family. She is also hypercritical and a micromanaging control freak. Think Hyacinth from BBC’s Keeping Up Appearances. Lester and son Henry suffer from illnesses brought on by anxiety, the oldest daughter is a ghost, and her youngest, Stephen, the neighborhood terror.
Lester is a quiet, poetry-loving man who cannot concentrate on the soul-destroying tedium of accounting. It shows in his performance as he is passed over for promotion. The family is headed for disaster when Lester is finally let go and attempts suicide. Roles reverse as he recovers from a devastating injury, with very interesting results.
Published in 1924, The Homemaker takes a good look at the roles that are dictated to us through our society, culture, and Tradition. In its light, often comedic voice Fisher keeps pointing us back to our importance as individuals. Ultimately, it is a book about being yourself and using the talents we have been given.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher also wrote “A Montessori Mother” in which she expounds on a brand new type of education for children that is still widely used today. Fisher has a unique and funny way of looking at people that is also filled with understanding and compassion. The relationship between Lester and Stephen was the most touching father-son bond I have ever read. This is one of my favorite books so far this year and I am looking forward to more by this wonderful author.
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