Evangeline Knapp's neighbors are in awe of her prowess. She re-upholsters furniture and can take scraps of fabric and create a beautiful garment. Her house is always immaculate and her children are beautifully behaved - except for the stubborn youngest, but with Eva's strength of will, they're certain she'll sort him out in time. The neighbors don't know that in her frenzied zeal to create the perfect home, her children live in dread of her temper. She loves them, but she can't stand having to remind them constantly about the same things, simple rules easy enough for anyone to understand. Eva can't abide childishness.
Her husband Lester is no less miserable in his job as a department store accountant, sacrificing his love of literature and poetry to the daily grind of commerce. Lester can't seem to get ahead and feels like a failure. Shouldn't a man be able to provide better for his family? Isn't that his job?
When a near fatal accident forces these two to switch roles, each finds their true calling. Then fate steps in again.
As with her children's classic Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield Fisher brilliantly explores the inner lives not only of the parents but the three Knapp children. An early champion of the Montessori Method, the author stresses that children should learn by doing, should be allowed to fail at tasks so they can experience the triumph of success and discover their strengths. The Home-Maker proves that the same holds true for adults, that biology should not determine destiny.
But will society allow deviation from its rules?