Looking for a good book to curl up with on a cozy fall day? Jane Brocket, author of the book that I told you about just recently - The Gentle Art of Domesticity, is a big fan of the domestic novel. "It gives a story to so many untold lives, and a meaning and significance to generations of women who were expected to live quietly domestic lives, but who were often far from dull and domesticated. Domestic novels reveal the textures of women's lives and the infinite possibilities and permutations of the domestic space. They also give contemporary women the chance to reflect that we are fortunate in not being compelled to live in that way unless we choose to do so, which makes domesticity a potentially enriching way of life, not a reductive one." Here are some of the books she chooses to read when in need of inspiration, encouragement and laughter:

  • Mrs. Miniver, by Jan Struther (1939)
  • They Knew Mr. Knight, by Dorothy Whipple (1934)
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
  • Family Roundabout, by Richmal Crompton (1948)
  • Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)
  • The Diary of a Provincial Lady, by E.M. Delafield (1930)
  • The Home-Maker, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924)
  • At Mrs. Lippincote's, by Elizabeth Taylor (1945)
I don't know about you, but I plan to work my way through the entire list! I've read Jane Eyre several times, and I watched a mini-series on PBS called Cranford, which was probably based on this book, but the rest will be totally new to me. I'm fairly certain I will love them. I guess I have a voyeuristic streak. When I tour a famous home like Biltmore, Monticello, or some palace in Europe, I'm not the least bit interested in seeing the formal spaces that they present to the public. I want to see the kitchens, the pantries, the bathrooms, the servants' quarters. I want to know how these people lived, and that's what a domestic novel tells us.

My very favorites have always been the ones about the women who left everything that was familiar to them and went off to live in a foreign place - books like The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley and Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen - and I loved them even before I did that very thing myself! What about you? Do you ever immerse yourself in domestic novels? If so, won't you share some of your favorites with us, maybe even write a mini review of one? I would sooo love to post it here and share it with others, if you would!

P.S. Many thanks to worthwhilebooks.blogspot.com for the image above
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5