By now you probably know I like to make friends aware of new, non-fiction books I find interesting. Books that inform or have information we writers may find useful. I became aware of this subject on one of my writing loops when someone mentioned an article that said Chick Lit was being replace by Farm Lit and the very notion was met with a lot of scoffing. The next day I was scrolling through TV channels and chanced to see an author being interviewed about her book that pertains to that very issue. Emily Matchar's book is titled: Homeward Bound.
The chick lit to farm lit reference more or less said romance heroines who once depicted the fast-paced lives of upwardly mobile twenty-to-thirty somethings are suddenly showing that same age heroine leaving their corporate jobs and life in the city to return to a life their grandmother's lived.
(in other words, the way I lived growing up on a semi-farm in a rural small town) I say semi-farm because my father also had a logging company and ran his own machine shop. But we planted and tended a huge garden, and we raised animals that ended up as our food throughout the year. We cut quilt blocks in the winter, made our own clothes, and we canned fruit and vegetables, plus made jams and jellies that went into our fruit cellar.
Ms. Matchar's book explores what is happening in current American culture to make our best and brightest women leave high paying corporate jobs to put home and hearth above all other concerns, including making money.
I was curious to see what she found in her broad-based investigative study that led to what she calls: the New Domesticity. (Really it's a life-style many in my generation couldn't wait to leave behind.)
The crux of her study indicates that there are several factors driving young women out of the workforce. One is a big concern for what goes into processed foods and a profusion of chemicals in things like cleaning products. Some of the metamorphosis seems to occur after the women get married and after the first children are born. Today's women want to spend more time with their children. They often decide to home school them because they don't like what's happening in public education. Likewise those same women think feeding their families unprocessed foods negates a need to vaccinate the children. And so they gravitate into groups of like-minded moms.
The Internet also contributes to the new trend. Stay-at-home moms started to blog about from-scratch recipes, knitting projects, canning the food you grow, making jam, raising poultry in an urban setting and other domestic projects. Ms Matchar refers to it as "urban homesteading"and the blogs hold broad appeal for women disenchanted with working long hours and getting stuck in daily traffic. Rural life began to look like the panacea for the good life--for women looking to have it all. These very educated women thought they could become online entrepreneurs. They would knit items and sell them. They would make jewelry and sell it. They would grow fresh produce and set up a roadside stand. Soon their well-crafted blogs made the lifestyle look and sound so appealing they created a glut on the market of homemade goods. According to the author of Homeward Bound, her study indicated the DIYers also caused ill-will among "true artisans" who found themselves priced out of the crafts they spent years training for.
I continue to look at this changing demographic with interest. And indeed many romance books I've read recently do have heroines who maybe start a small town bakery, settle in a new place where they teach sewing, or make friends through joining knitting groups. Some have harvested and sold fruit, or opened a small café. Goodness, I've written heroines like that and may have other ideas for heroines who leave city life to explore country living.
What I find amusing is the notion of this being "new domesticity". I see it as reverting back to what my mother considered "the good ol' days"--a lifestyle many from my generation looked on as a hard life where we got up early to bake bread, and worked late into the night snapping beans, canning fruit in a hot kitchen. To be honest I liked working outside the home. And my husband and kids enjoyed having me work. Otherwise they said I organized them to death--case in point, the time I color coded everything in our kitchen cabinets.
But I applaud women no matter their choices. I recommend this book as thought-provoking. As readers and writers I'm sure you'll have opinions. Please share them. I want to know what you think.