#BibliomaniacsBookClub #April #TheHomeMaker #PaperweightChoice


The Home Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher is published by persephonebooks.co.uk and was first published in 1924. 

What is about? 
The novel is set in a small town in New England in the 1920s. Evangeline (Eva) is an obsessively house proud stay at home mother (a home-maker) but she and her three children are miserable. Eva's controlling behaviour as she seeks perfection and order in her home is making everyone unhappy and she herself is frustrated and bored. 
Lester, her husband, is also unhappy as he is not fulfilled by his job and misses the time he could be spending with his family. Tragedy strikes one day when Lester falls from the roof; suddenly he is bound to a wheelchair and the home. Eva has to go out to work and everything then changes. 
The children blossom and the family become happy. Each find their purpose, role and what makes them feel valued. There is an incredible transformation. But then it appears that Lester may make a recovery and the peace and new found happiness is under threat. 

The Home Maker: Book Club Questions:

  • This book is written nearly 100 years ago. Did you have any preconceptions about the novel's style or content before you started reading? Did that change while you were reading?
  • The book is set in the 1920s but is essentially about the life of a family and the roles of the husband and wife in the family. How relevant is this novel for today's society? Was there anything in the novel that particularly resonated with you? 
  • How many house husbands do you know?
  • One of the themes in this novel is perception versus reality. Can you find some examples of this in the story? 
  • Which character did you feel the most sympathy for and why? Which character did you feel the least sympathy for and why?
  • What points do you think The Home Maker is raising about society's expectations and personal fulfilment? What do you think Fisher's message for both men and women is? 
  • What other themes are explored in the book?
  • This is a book which can make you laugh, cry, scream and twitch. Which passage or scene did you find most powerful or emotive and why? 
  • How did you find the ending of the novel? Was it believable? Satisfying? The only possible ending? Was it confined by the time in which it was written and published?
  • Fisher was interested in Feminism, Psychoanalysis and the Montessori method of education. How do Fisher's personal interests affect or intrude upon the characters and the plot?
  • Critics say Fisher was a woman ahead of her time and this is a book ahead of its time. Critics also call this a brave and remarkable read. Do you agree?
  • To what extent would you agree with Dorothy Canfield Fisher when she said that The Home-Maker is a book not about women’s rights but about children’s rights?
  • The Home-Maker has been one of the most successful Persephone Books titles for discussion in book groups. Why do you think this is? 
  • Would you read another title from Persephone? 

Where could you hold your book group meeting for The Home Maker? 
  •  around the kitchen table
  •  the shop floor of any Department store

What drinks or snacks could you serve?

Image result for images for posters housewives 1924 america cookingImage result for images for posters housewives 1924 america cookingImage result for images for coca cola 1924 america

What props could you use to start a conversation about title?
  • egg whisk
  • newspaper
  • a ladder
  • children's paints and brushes 
  • nappies
  • dishcloth and cleaning equipment

Quotes to start a conversation about The Home Maker:

"But she had been like a gifted mathematician set to paint a picture"

"When Mother was scrubbing a floor was always a good time for Stephen. She forgot all about you for a while. Oh, what a weight fell off from your shoulders when Mother forgot about you for a while! How perfectly lovely it was just to walk around in the bedroom and know she wouldn’t come to the door any minute and look at you and say, ‘What are you doing Stephen? and add, ‘How did you get your rompers so dirty?’"

"it seemed to her that she had such strangechildren, not like other people’s, easy to understand and manage, strong, normal children"

"How she loathed housework!......How she hated childishness!"

In ‘Why Women Fail’ (1931), Lorine Pruette remarked sardonically that upon marrying, ‘men appear to lose a large part of their capacity as adults; they can no longer feed themselves, house themselves, look after their health, or attend to their social  responsibilities… most of them upon marriage lose the capacity even of writing to their own mother.’ Discuss........!

If you liked this book and want to read similar novels try:

These are all titles from Persephone Books (order online at persephonebooks.co.uk)
  • Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge 
  • Fidelity by Susan Glaspell 
  • Heat Lightning by Helen Hull 

Hostages to FortuneFidelityHeat Lightning

  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson 
  • Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey 
  • Madame Solario by Gladys Huntington 
  • Any and all of Dorothy Whipple's books! 

The Persephone Box Set

Persephone Books reprints neglected fiction and non fiction by mid-twentieth century women. Each book is produced with a silver cover and with stunning endpapers. Here is the endpaper for The Home Maker: 

The Home-Maker

The design of this Warner silk, velvet and terry material, exported to the USA during the early 1920s, was derived from a French fabric based on medieval tapestries: two birds are facing each other and away from each other - as in marriage, they are both coupled and confrontational.
More on Persephone Books: 

Persephone Books reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers. All of their 117 books are intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written and are chosen to appeal to busy people wanting titles that are neither too literary nor too commercial. They publish novels, short stories, diaries, memoirs and cookery books; each has an elegant grey jacket, a ‘fabric’ endpaper with matching bookmark, and a preface by writers such as Jilly Cooper, David Kynaston and Elaine Showalter.


More about Dorothy Canfield Fisher 

Click here: Dorothy_Canfield_Fisher

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (February 17, 1879 – November 9, 1958) was an educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author in the early decades of the twentieth century. She strongly supported women's rights, racial equality, and lifelong education. Eleanor Roosevelt named her one of the ten most influential women in the United States. In addition to bringing the Montessori method of child-rearing to the U.S., she presided over the country's first adult education program and shaped literary tastes by serving as a member of the Book of the Month Club selection committee from 1925 to 1951.

Don't forget to check out Bibliomaniac's PaperLight choice for April here: 

Follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with more book club recommendations and all my book reviews and author events @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk).


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