Bear with me as I recommend a little-known book with an unattractive cover that was written in 1924.
Hang on, don’t leave yet. I know how it sounds, but it’s worth it.
It’s The Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. And that, my friends, is a statement I don’t make often.
Jane Brocket, the author of The Gentle Art of Domesticity recommended this book as one that deals with the topics of “hearth and home”. She had me hooked with that. I love books about cozy, family life.
But The Homemaker was so so so much more than a fascinating look at a family in the early 20th century, though it certainly is that. It’s a study in what happens when you ignore who you are by nature and try to fit yourself instead into a role that is forced upon you.
When you read The Homemaker, you’ll recognize the lead character of Evangeline Knapp as the Penelope she is.
She stays at home, doing her duty as wife and mom and does her work obsessively. Nothing can be too clean or too perfect. And there are times she allows this to go further than it should.
In fact, there are things she thinks – and does, that make me cringe, both in horror and familiarity.
But her role as homemaker, while important to her because she loves her husband and children, isn’t satisfying. She wants something different, but tries to ignore that urge. Until disaster strikes and…well, I’m not going to say more. But suffice to say, I loved every page of this book. I saw myself in Evangeline. I knew who she was immediately and at her core.
Canfield’s prose is incredibly current. From the beginning, I felt I knew all the characters intimately and wanted the very best for each of them. I even shed a tear at the end, which I rarely do.
This is a book I’ll read again, smiling to myself as I think, time and again, “she’s such a Penelope” and “I completely understand how she’s feeling.”
As with all links to Amazon on this site, the link to this book is an affiliate one. But I’m so not writing this for that purpose. Buy it at Barnes & Noble (though they may have to special order it), get it through your library, whatever. Just give it a try and let me know what you think.