This 1924 novel by a leading American writer is one of the Persephone books that has been most enjoyed by reading groups; it was included in a US collection, Five Hundred Great Books by Women; and the novelist Carol Shields wrote to us: 'I was astonished at the acute angle of vision and the fullness of sympathy, toward both men and women - and children.'
The Home-Maker describes Evangeline, an obsessively house-proud mother and home-maker (a word that is in everyday use in America but not in Britain) who renders each of her children miserable in different ways, through her perfectionism and her need to control; without realising it, she is frustrated and bored - yet she thinks she is a good and devoted mother.
Lester, her husband, is also unhappy, at home and at work. It is only when he falls off a roof that his family's life changes; he is wheelchair-bound at home and his wife goes to work in a department store (the setting is small town New England). The children gradually blossom; all sorts of practical ruses are devised (like covering the kitchen floor with newspaper when Evangeline leaves each morning); and a Montessori Father is born. The scene where he surreptitiously watches his youngest child learning to use an egg-whisk is one of the great scenes in the literature of childhood, in what is 'a remarkable and brave novel' (Carol Shields).
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.
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