Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the gift of a century for certain! *10* stars, Feb. 3 2004
This review is from: Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House (Hardcover)
My sister bought this book for me a few years ago as a Christmas gift, and errantly enough I often made the mistake of simply checking the index and thumbing to the appropriate pages when needed. This week, in a fit of un-hominess related to flat-mate changes, 30-something grad school home-neglect, etc., I went to my bookshelves looking for some solace. For the first time -- I looked at the table of contents and there I found the secrets I had been looking for all along: Chapter 1 - My Secret Life. I started reading the book from the preface onward immediately.
Though I am a child of the early 70's, I was raised by parents born in the 30's, subjected to post-war/50's cleaning rigors through the week and every weekend. At heart, like my own grandmother, I am a putterer - 100% contrary to my callisthenic style chore-upbringing.
For years, I have secretly reveled while doing all of my housework as close to bedtime as possible, sometimes hours after all "normal" people were long in bed. The truth is I honestly like doing housework -- I simply do not like doing it first thing out of bed, nor according to any clock. I love going to sleep knowing that there are far better reasons to wake up in the morning than some mess left over from today. To finally find a book written by someone who genuinely loves to keep house, this was a sleeping joy sitting on my bookshelf I am sorry I never started reading cover-to-cover long ago. Though I am sure I will probably find a point within a few chapters where I decide that it will be relegated to more of a reference, I now know that when I have a little free time here or there, want to steal myself away to relax with a cup of tea between loads of laundry -- I have just the tome to which to turn to learn more and more about how make house into "home".
Cheryl Mendelson brings her secret love of housework into her writing brilliantly and sometimes humorously. After years of looking at housekeeping as a chore while I tried to keep up with the clockwork callisthenic style of my childhood and feeling guilty for wanting to relax my way through making my home just that, I finally found an author who approaches her subject as something to revel in rather than revile -- an author who validates the secret wisdom of my own grandmother as absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. At first realization that Mendelson left "JD" off the cover, an eyebrow went up as to how many pages would pass before the respect and humor turned into a dry-as-heck legal brief, as enthusiastic as a math professor reciting his grocery list, but it doesn't really happen.
Anyone can pick up a little 100-page quickie on how to make chores more efficient or effective, written by people who hate to "waste time" tending to household needs. While Mendelson does indeed write about many things effects the same ends, her style exudes respect and truly communicates that one does these things to convert the house into a well balanced, efficiently run, harmonious home. A place to "come home" to, rather than a demanding place that simply adds to the worries of the outside world. Save your pennies and ignore those little "hints" books -- this one single volume is worth its weight in gold.
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