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Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth Hardcover – April 22, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (April 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684869594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684869599
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,204,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Jean Zimmerman is the author of Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook, and coauthor of Breaking with Tradition: Women and Work, the New Facts of Life. Most recently, Zimmerman and her husband and writing partner Gil Reavill published Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives. Zimmerman lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.

More About the Author

I am a New York-based writer and I have made the history of Manhattan a central focus of both my fiction and nonfiction.

My most recent novel is Savage Girl (Viking, 2014) a mystery with a twist of fable about a "feral child" who gets transformed Pygmalion style into a Gilded Age debutante.

My previous books include the historical novel The Orphanmaster, which told the story of a spunky, beautiful heroine and her sensitive yet manly lover who together embark on a quest to solve a series of grisly crimes in 1663 New Amsterdam.

My most recent nonfiction work was Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance, a portrait of an iconic couple of Gilded Age Manhattan.

An honors graduate of Barnard College, I earned a graduate degree in writing from the Columbia University School of the Arts, published my poetry widely in literary magazines, and received a Writing Fellowship from New York Foundation for the Arts.

I live with my family in Westchester County, New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James Carrington on April 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Made From Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth" by Jean Zimmerman is a beautifully written book describing the history and current state of the art of homemaking in America. Zimmerman, who comes from a long line of Southern roots matrons, was hit head on with the power of feminism in high school and college, catapulting her far away from her domestic foremothers. Now, a wife, mother and author, she has comprehensively researched her subject and presents it in straight-forward and intimate style. This book oozes with insightful anecdotes and facts about the modernization of American Homemaking, and what it reveals about our society in general. Vividly interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking. Highly recommended.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Linda Ravenell on March 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For the first 200 pages of this book, the author seems to have a love-hate view of "housewifery", appliances, societal changes, and never does seem to arrive at an opinion as to which is more desirable: a return to simpler times when the home was the center of family life versus the vissitudes and amenities of modern life. She advocates for both and neither. In the very end of the book, she finally lets slip that she enjoys and finds personal fulfillment in the needle arts of knitting, crocheting, and quilting. Read the last chapter and skip the rest.
This book does not contain illustrations, recipes, or much in the way of constructive suggestion as to how to recapture the presumed pleasure of the American hearth. It reads like a very long and dull diatribe lamenting that society and "home-made" have changed without ever getting her point across. The end notes and source lists are huge, leaving this reader wondering why this author never quite makes her point. Will she ever make up her mind?
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Format: Paperback
"Made from Scratch" is a wonderful examination of American women's roles in the home from the late 19th century through to the modern era. In detailing her highly educated mother's stifled existence as a 1960s and '70s housewife and her own rejection of household skills as a teenager, she ultimately realizes that household skills and household work have been vilified to the detriment of everyone.

Neither radical feminist diatribe nor uber-conservative glorification of women in the home (and only in the home), she takes a balanced approach to the idea that housework and related responsibilities should be revalued by both men and women as important to home and family life. That handwork and housecleaning should be valued for the pleasure of creating things by hand and the relaxing qualities of a clean and organized home, not scorned and vilified as "women's work."

Her prose flows wonderfully and is a fun and interesting read for such a serious topic.
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