The Week in Books 2009, No. 25

Many thanks to Heather L. for her recommendation of Jane Brocket’s excellent and inspirational book The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home. The book is worth your perusal if only for the photos: as I read it I found myself possessed by a deep and hitherto unknown desire to paint my kitchen a brilliant shade of turquoise or at least bake some startlingly bright cupcakes. Brocket’s taste in textiles is somewhat different from my own, but I still found her projects inspiring.

Unlike many other books of pretty pictures about homemaking, Brocket’s book is full of interesting and intelligent essays about a variety of topics ranging from art to literature to her reasoning behind putting her PhD on hold to raise her family. I enjoyed her engaging style and would recommend the book to anyone who wants to dabble in the domestic arts a bit.

Jane Brocket mentioned Pretty Party Cakes: Sweet and Stylish Cakes and Cookies for All Occasions in her book above, so I thought I would check it out too. While some of the cakes were a little heavy on the mauve roses for my taste, I adored the fanciful cookies and cupcake designs. Moreover, the book contains detailed instructions with pictures on how to frost a cake and cover it with marzipan and fondant, how to create pansies out of icing, and many other helpful tips I had never seen so clearly explained. After Brocket’s book and this one I really wish I had some pots of food coloring. I’ve never tried fondant before, but I just might have to attempt it for our next round of birthdays. How fortunate for me that I have three children born on different days!

Disciplines of a Godly Family was all right as parenting books go. It covers the usual topics like making spiritual growth a priority, making time for family traditions, and thoughts on how character issues ought to be dealt with. The strength of the book, however, is probably the uniqueness of its appendices. I got a lot out of the authors’ in depth description of how they pray for their children with specific things in different categories. Other people might enjoy the list of good movies for families with children of different ages, or the book lists (although I think the book lists are a little thin and you’d do better to read Honey for a Child’s Heart instead).

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