Synopses & Reviews
Amid today’s rising anxieties — the economy, the scary state of the environment, the growing sense that the American Dream hasn’t turned out to be so dreamy after all — a groundswell of women (and more than a few men) are choosing to embrace an unusual rebellion: domesticity. A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, baking cupcakes, gardening, and more (and blogging about it, of course), embracing the labor-intensive domestic tasks their mothers and grandmothers eagerly shrugged off. Some are even turning away from traditional careers and corporate culture for slower, more home-centric lifestyles that involve “urban homesteading,” homeschooling their kids, or starting Etsy businesses. They’re questioning whether regular jobs are truly fulfilling and whether it’s okay to turn away from the ambitions of their parents’ generation.
How did this happen? And what does it all mean? What happens to American culture as a whole when our best and brightest put home and hearth above other concerns? Does this sudden fascination with traditional homemaking bode ill for gender equality? What role have the media and blog culture played in making domesticity look so darn appealing?
In Homeward Bound, acclaimed journalist Emily Matchar takes a long, hard look at both the inspiring appeal and the potential dangers of this trend she calls the New Domesticity, exploring how it could be reshaping the role of women in society and what the consequences may be for all of us. In riveting interviews with all kinds of people from coast to coast, Matchar examines the motivations of those who have embraced this movement, from Southern food bloggers to chicken-keeping “radical homemakers” on the East Coast to Etsy entrepreneurs in Provo, Utah, to attachment parenting devotees in Chicago, and many more. This groundbreaking reporting on the New Domesticity is guaranteed to transform our notions of women in today’s society and add a new layer to the ongoing discussion of whether women can — or should — have it all.
“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
"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.'"
"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.'"
"An entertaining and well-structured book."
New York Journal of Books
"A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life....Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions."
"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."
"[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."
What happens to our society as a whole when smart, high-achieving young women are honing their traditional homemaking skills? Emily Matchar offers a smart investigation into this return to domesticity.
There's no doubt about it: domesticity is enjoying a major comeback, with the explosion of “stitch n’ bitch” knitting circles; our sudden fascination with canning, cheese-making, and grinding our own flour; and a tidal wave of memoirs in the “I quit my corporate job and found fulfillment on a Vermont goat farm” vein. Why are women embracing the labor-intense domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic, vintage-clad supermom become the media’s feminine ideal?
In Homeward Bound, Emily Matchar offers an investigation into how New Domesticity is fundamentally reshaping the role of women in society, and what the consequences might be. With research spanning from coast to coast, Matchar introduces us to a diverse cast of characters — Southern food bloggers, “radical homemakers” on the East Coast, Etsy entrepreneurs in Provo, members of urban knitting circles in Austin, and many more. She identifies the negative elements of these trends along with the positive, ultimately suggesting that this return to domesticity goes a step too far, to the detriment of both men and women alike.
About the Author
Emily Matchar studied English and Spanish at Harvard University. She has worked as a reporter for Raleigh’s The News & Observer and as a blogger for AOL. She has written for Salon, Men’s Journal, Gourmet, ForbesLife, Outside, BBC History, Babble, and many others. She lives with her husband in Chapel Hill.