The Gentle Art of Domesticity

Few books have inspired me like this one has. It’s wonderful!! Written by Jane Brockett, it’s a beautiful celebration of the domestic life. The book is filled with gorgeous photographs that I could spend hours just looking at. And although it’s not written from a Christian perspective (there are very slight feminist touches in one or two instances), the whole theme is wonderfully in harmony with the Titus 2 description of homemakers.

This book is a journey through what the author calls “the gentle arts”: knitting, baking, quilting, and anything else that enhances the beauty of your home. It is like a wonderful mix between a Martha Stewart Living magazine and Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking (which I also highly recommend…)

The introduction to The Gentle Art of Domesticity explains the purpose of the book very well:

For the gentle arts are just that: gentle. They do not demand to be practiced. No one is obliged to pursue them. They have not been taken up by any government department and regulated and repackaged with health and safety messages and warnings. They are a matter of individual and personal choice. They can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest and the ability to thread a needle, break an egg, choose a color or wield a pair of scissors. They don’t require complicated skills, qualifications, training or equipment. They don’t take up much space, create dirt and mess (although you may find yourself leaving the house covered in little threads or fibers) or impinge on others’ lives.

What they do require, though, is a conscious choice to do something “old-fashioned” and “quaint,” to choose not to buy and consume endlessly, but to make and create for a change.

…And that is the second important message of this book. If it inspires anyone to take a shot at making something, to discover or rediscover the delights of domesticity, to try something new, then it will fulfill its purpose. As a domestic artist with absolutely no artistic background or training, I can say with complete confidence that there are no right or wrong ways when it comes to the gentle arts, and that the only way you will learn is to give them a try.

The entire book is a delight, and one that I continually enjoy flipping through and getting “re-inspired”. There are sections devoted to lists of black-and-white movies that go well with knitting socks, the adventures of the author’s daughters while making homemade colored (bright blue!) marshmallows, recipes for things like “jam tarts” and , beautiful paintings that depict scenes of domestic life, and the author’s joy in creating quilt patterns with the help of her teenage son. It reminds me of the joy and beauty that fills homemaking. It points out beauty, causes me to stop and enjoy everyday things.

I highly recommend The Gentle Art of Domesticity to any girl or woman who has a home of her own, or hopes to have one at some point. After reading it, I think you’ll find – like I did – that your perspective on the home has changed for the better. The afterword sums it up well:

…the key to the gentle art of domesticity…is recognition – recognition of the worth of homemaking, of overlooked skills, of ordinary things. Above all it is the recognition of the small but significant moments of pleasure that come with an acceptance and enjoyment of the domestic space. These are the moments that all too often go unnoticed in the general speed and melee of daily life. In order to enjoy domesticity, we need to cultivate a habit of stepping back every so often to pause and observe and enjoy…

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