Day 1039: The Home-Maker

Cover for The Home-MakerBest Book of the Week!
The Home-Maker, which was published in 1924, was certainly a radical novel for its time. It has themes that resonate even today, although in some ways it is dated.

Evangeline Knapp is one of those super housekeepers whose home is always immaculate. When we first meet her, she has spent hours scrubbing a grease stain on the floor. But she does not love her work, and her unhappiness creates an atmosphere of tension in the house. She continually picks at her children for not meeting her standards, and everyone is afraid to upset her.

Lester Knapp works as an accounting clerk at a department store and hates every minute of it. He is not earning points with the new management for his dreamy demeanor or love of poetry. Although he is a good husband and father, he is perceived by his community as ineffective and a poor provider. Early on, we learn that he did not get a promotion he was hoping for, and his family will continue to be poor.

A terrible incident forces the two Knapps to swap responsibilities after Lester is injured. Lester takes over the household and child-rearing while Evangeline gets a job in the department store. Her new employers are struck by her energy and dedication to her work, while Lester’s patience with the children makes everyone’s temper and health improve. Everyone learns to adjust to a certain level of messiness.

The idea of swapping roles was much more controversial at this time, so much so that the novel is forced into a shocking conclusion. That was the only thing I didn’t like about this novel, which is touching and compassionate in its view of its characters. However, there probably wasn’t a better way to resolve the situation at the time.

This is a fascinating novel for its time, exploring the ideas of roles for the sexes and how well they actually apply, what happens when a person has no challenging life’s work, and so on. The novel’s themes are applicable to today, even if the times would not require such a resolution.

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6 thoughts on “Day 1039: The Home-Maker

  1. Naomi February 14, 2017 / 6:57 pm

    This sounds good!

    • whatmeread February 14, 2017 / 10:12 pm

      It’s another book published by Persephone. I’ve read quite a few now, and although I liked some better than others, I haven’t read a bad one.

  2. annelogan17 February 14, 2017 / 8:02 pm

    this actually sound like a really good book-it’s so interesting how older books like this can shed a light on today’s problems 🙂

    • whatmeread February 14, 2017 / 10:09 pm

      Yes, they make us look at problems a different way.

  3. SpringTexan February 14, 2017 / 9:22 pm

    I love this book! Surprised and happy to see it reviewed. I don’t think your review quite conveys details like Evangeline’s genuine thrill at the delights of selling and shopkeeping, and Lester’s genuine ability to tune in to his children’s concerns.

    For myself, I liked the realistic ending.

    Have you reviewed Understood Betsy elsewhere. That’s another wonderful book!

  4. whatmeread February 14, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    No, I haven’t read that one yet.

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