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Thursday, April 11, 2013

THE HOME MAKER by DOROTHY CANFIELD


Recently I seem to have read quite a few novels set in small towns wherever they may be and somehow the characters of those stories seem different. So many hidden facets to them which for various reasons seem to be unseen. Whether it it the fear of being different, of just wanting to go with the flow and not be conspicuous which is definitely what would happen in small town areas - I really don't know.

Here we have what would we assume is a typical family. Father hard working but then we find out that he is incapable of doing his job and they do not know how to get rid of him as quickly as possible. We have Helen the daughter timid and fearful, then Henry always ill and Stephen always angry with the world. We then have the star Eva our mother who is permanently on the go. Everything must be perfect. Children must be clean, tidy and perfect, household ditto, husband ditto. She slaves non stop and makes servants of her children and husband as she is a tyrant where method and time must not be wasted. Nothing must be out of sync and being the perfectionist she is, nothing must vary as then the whole process will be upset.

The Ladies Guild were very much in awe almost afraid of Eva because she had an answer for everyone and everything but at the same time they spoke behind her back about why so much in her family was awry. 

The whole family were turned upside down when Lester became disabled and Eva became the bread winner. Lester took over the household tasks and became very good at it. He also handled the children beautifully and all of them responded very well to his care. Helen becoming more forward and responsible, Henry getting over his allergies and Stephen becoming so much easier and amenable to all. Everyone including Eva is very happy with the change but lurking in their minds is what will happen when Lester recovers and things go back to what they earlier were. No one wants that but no one has the courage to talk about it either.

I liked the story with its gender reversal roles. Couldn't have been easy in a small town at the time having to cope with that!  I think none of us would even think of role reversal now if the situation so demands it but it must have been a tightrope in the 1920s.

Very nice read.

6 comments:

vicki (skiourophile) said...

I've recently finished this one and I agree that it was such a good read. The small town was captured so well, too, I thought - how everyone thinks they know about everyone else. I'm keen to read more by her now.

Noelle the dreamer said...

Good review Mystica and I always enjoy your input. This time however, I'll pass!
Blessings,

Laura Fabiani said...

I can see how gender reversal would have been a big deal in the 1920s! Even today, there aren't many stay-at-home dads.

Laura's Reviews said...

This sounds like a very interesting book - especialy with the gender role reversal. It sounds like the Dad was better at the duties than Eva. It would be interesting to read how that dynamic played out!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This is one author I need to try. I own a few of her books.

bermudaonion said...

I do think small towns are different. This book sounds good - is it an older book?