As Dorothy Canfield’s novel The Home-Maker opens, Eva Knapp is scrubbing the kitchen floor, seething at the price of cleaning powder and the ingratitude of her family for not appreciating her hard work.
Eva’s hatred of housework is making her and her whole family physically and emotionally ill.
Lester Knapp hates his department store bookkeeping job as much as Eva hates being home.
When Lester loses first his job and then the use of his legs, Eva uses her store experience and knowledge of people to get a sales position at the store which had fired Lester.
Lester becomes the home-maker, relishing time with the three children as much as Eva hated it. He realizes, “There was no sacrifice in the world which [Eva] would not joyfully make for her children except to live with them.”
That a man could be more nurturing than a woman is startling for 1924, and the descriptions of each parent interacts with each child are extraordinary.
Despite its unethical ending, which I’ll leave readers to discover, The Home-Maker ranks with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on my must-read list for parents, teachers and concerned neighbors.The Home-Maker
By Dorothy Canfield [Fisher]
NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1924
1924 bestseller #10
My grade: A
© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni