In this stunning celebration and reappraisal of the importance of """"womens work,"""" acclaimed journalist Jean Zimmerman poignantly addresses the tug that many Americans of the twenty-first century feel between our professional and private lives. With sharp wit and intelligence, she offers evidence that in the current domestic vacuum, we still long for a richer home life -- a paradox visible in the Martha Stewart phenomenon, in the continuing popularity of womens service magazines such asBetter Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and Ladies Home Journal-- whose combined circulation of over 17 million is nearly twice the combined circulation ofTime, Newsweek,andU.S. News World Report-- and the booming business of restorations, where onlookers get a hands-on view of domestic life as it flourished in past centuries. This book is about the ways home traditions passed from one generation to the next -- baking a birthday cake from scratch, cherishing family heirlooms, or discovering the satisfaction of piecing a quilt -- sustain our souls, especially in our ever more processed, synthetic world, where we buy """"homemade"""" goods and fail to see the irony in that. Made
In the past century, homemakers have become a dying breed. The domestic achievements of our mothers and grandmothers have been devalued and replaced by the easy options of fast food, hired help and prefabricated products of all kinds; meanwhile, the arts of cooking, needlework and gardening become the province of a dedicated few. Zimmerman (Breaking with Tradition: Women and Work) urges both men and women to honor and preserve the domestic achievements of our female ancestors. "In the small private act of stirring a pot of homemade soup or knitting a scarf for a loved one we preserve the rich heritage of the home and keep back the swelling tide of mediocrity and commodification that is fast replacing it-and, most important, nourish our own souls." Although Zimmerman asserts that revaluing "women's work" is a feminist act, her argument occasionally downplays the positive impact the feminist revolution has had on American women in the past four decades. In the end, Zimmerman advocates for a mild domestic revolution of her own: "I would like to see every person perform just one small domestic act." It's a startling request in its simplicity, and yet it highlights the very best that modern feminism has offered women: nowadays, for some women, to perform a small domestic act is a choice. Though the book's gender politics may raise a few hackles, the author offers a thoughtful and engaging defense of domesticity. (May) Forecast: Many women still have no choice about performing domestic acts, so Zimmerman's audience may be the small percentage of women who can afford not to do such chores-high-income women who may take issue with her thesis altogether. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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July 07, 2012
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