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Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity Hardcover – May 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145166544X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451665444
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Matchar maintains a chatty tone that makes for easy reading. … She’s funny and self-deprecating… [Her] work left me with a better understanding of other women’s motivations.” (Washington Post)

“The brilliance of Emily Matchar’s new book is that it exhaustively describes what disillusioned workers are opting into: a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle that’s focused on the home. Matchar synthesizes dozens of trend stories… into a single, compelling narrative about the resurgence of domesticity….Refreshing” (The New Republic)

“Matchar captures the appeal of the new domesticity — from its ‘cozy vintage aesthetic’ to its embrace of healthier foods and recycling. At the same time, she raises sharp and timely questions about whether the army of new-style happy homemakers aren’t ‘glossing over some of the harder realities of women, work, and equality.’” (Boston Globe)

"Cogently argues that choosing a more hands-on, DIY lifestyle family farming, canning, crafting-can, without sacrificing feminism's hard-won gains, improve on an earlier time when 'people lived more lightly on the earth and relied less on corporations, and family and community came first.'" (Elle)

"Very informative and eye opening…. The book is a must for mothers, old, young, and in between. …well worth reading and discussing.” (The Orange Leader)

"An entertaining and well-structured book." (New York Journal of Books)

The book is an insightful, fascinating read. While Matchar is nonjudgmental, she also provides a refreshing dose of analysis and skepticism.” (The Independent Weekly (Triangle Area, NC))

“[Matchar] places women at the center of the budding movement to challenge industrial food. . . . A nuanced, sympathetic critique. . . she defends feminism against the charge that it drove women out of the kitchen and led to the decline in cooking.” (MotherJones.com)

“A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A lively and perceptive reporter… [Matchar] offers a valuable and astute assessment of the factors that led to the current embracing of domesticity and the consequences of this movement.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This book heralds a revolution in the attitudes and values of our society and will certainly divide public opinion in general and women in particular.” (Elisabeth Badinter bestselling author of The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women)

About the Author

Emily Matchar writes about culture, women's issues, work, food and more for places such as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Salon, The Hairpin, Gourmet, Men's Journal, Outside, and many others. She lives in Hong Kong and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband.

Customer Reviews

This book was not what I was expecting.
Ann saeli
I suspect this author started with her own conclusions and did not really allow her research to further develop her opinions.
EmilyS
Don't they realize their teenagers won't care how from scratch their baby food was?
COME. ON.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 142 people found the following review helpful By gardengal on May 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was an interesting book, however I was struck by the author's main focus, which is (other than a very minor treatment of other perspectives) that these "domestic" pursuits seem to be given modern validation because "cool, progressive, lefties" are embracing them, often with political motivation. Or that in some cases, BECAUSE there can be a political element in the decision to can jam (etc.), suddenly some people are perceiving these activities as being OK or even desirable to undertake.

What?? There are many women (of all ages and philosophical bents) who engage in such heritage pursuits (and have never lost interest in them) simply because we enjoy them, because they make economic sense, the process of making brings delight and shows love, they connect us to past generations, they speak sanity and simplicity in an age of rapid electronic group-think, and they forge beautiful connections with seasonal cycles. It's just a lovely way to live.

Again, the book was interesting and insightful in places, but should perhaps be more honestly titled to reflect the predominant perspective addressed. This isn't about why "women" are embracing the "new domesticity" but why young, left-leaning women are becoming interested. While the political motivation of some people is worth exploring and is certainly part of the conversation, I had hoped for a fuller look into the satisfactions of living a homemade life.

Curiously, I was reading the autobiography of a famous French chef at the same time as I read this book and had to smile at his reaction to the "modern" interest in local, organic, seasonal, "whole foods" cooking, the gist of which was something like this: "It's not some sort of religious mantra, it's just a given... that's how you cook.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By COME. ON. on April 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've never reviewed anything, on amazon or elsewhere, but this book, with its poorly conceived, poorly researched premise, written with poorly concealed bias, really cheesed me off. The author makes the same repetitive (tired) point, that the current "trend" in domesticity is exclusively the purview of fad-following, educated, relatively well-off white women, leaving no room for the possibility that self-involved hipsters, may, shockingly, just spend more time talking and writing about themselves than the women (who may or may not fit those criteria) for whom homemaking is an important and deeply personal pursuit. To quote from the NYT review,"'This lifestyle wouldn’t work if women were raising their perfect, happy locavore children in the middle of the woods with no Internet connection,' Marcie Cohen Ferris, an American studies professor at the University of North Carolina, says in the book." Really? I'm fairly certain it does work, and has, FOR ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY. People leaving crowded cities to build their homes and raise their children in more pastoral surroundings isn't a new phenomenon. Dabbling in (ugh) "DIY" by making a few jars of jam or picking up knitting for a week, then blogging about it, is in no way the same as devoting one's days (and nights, and weekends) to caring for a home and a family with an attention to detail, quality, thrift, and environmental impact that would be superhuman for anyone also working a full-time job. The author seems confused about the magnitude of this disparity, though one need not even browse etsy for very long to comprehend the gaping chasm between the skillful, well practiced hand-maker and the dilettante.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By EmilyS on July 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The inconsistency of this book's arguments bothered me. The author often identifies the "New Domesticity" as being the domain of upper-middle-class, educated, liberal white women whenever she makes conclusions. But the research-based parts of her writing seem to contradict this. She describes the same trends taking place in both liberal and conservative communities, in urban and rural areas, and she writes in one place about families that undergo voluntary income reduction, going from ~50k to ~26k, and that these people survey as being happier. A household income of 26k does not sound upper middle class to me. And I don't see any evidence that she even looked for non-white people to interview- I know a tremendous amount of people from diverse backgrounds who craft and garden. I suspect this author started with her own conclusions and did not really allow her research to further develop her opinions.

Also, towards the end she has interviews with a few queer women who are into New Domesticity. I have to say, it majorly steams my clams that she thinks their involvement with this movement is less problematic than that of heterosexually partnered women because there aren't any traditional division of labor/patriarchy issues involved. That is about the least nuanced analysis ever- seems like it would read as shallow to the point of offensive for most people.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
New Domesticity is what Emily Matchar calls the trend of young women embracing homey activities such as gardening, cooking from scratch, sewing, crafting, homeschooling, and extreme parenting. While it isn't a uniform trend that always encompasses all those aspects, it often draws on elements of frugal living, voluntary simplicity, and attachment parenting. It attracts counterculture women as well as young Mormon mothers.

Matchar admits she finds many aspects of the movement enticing, such as the creative side, in which many of the participants are selling their crafts on Etsy. Other elements she finds problematic, such as the increase of parents who homeschool.

Throughout the book, the question is why are these women, most of whom are university educated, rejecting professional careers to stay at home? Of course, there are many reasons, and the discussions bring up topics such as the sputtering economy, the cracked but not broken glass ceiling, whether women can have it all, and are there biological reasons some women like to make a nest rather than compete in the workplace? One theme that comes up often is how homeschooling in particular is a rejection of the community in favor of individual solutions. Naturally,a big question is whether this movement is feminist or the opposite.

Matchar guides the conversation in a skillful manner, without stooping to easy answers. She adds the voices of writers who've covered this territory in the past. This book had me thinking and discussing with others and re-evaluating. I loved it!

(Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy.)
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