“The Good Wife’s Guide: Embracing Your Role as Helpmeet” authored by Darlene Schacht
Despite what the title conveys, this book is not in any way related to the similarly titled travesty that people pass off as “historical fact” about the 1950’s. That being said, I do believe, first and foremost, that it is important to recognize that this book is written from the point of one woman who (like myself) is embroiled in the romanticized ideology surrounding the vintage 1950’s housewife. This sort of traditionalism includes elements that I have come to discover are not found in other forms of Traditionalism, and which seem to be exclusive to those traditionalists who are also focused on vintage aesthetics and romanticims- particularly of the 1940’s to 1960’s.
That traditionalist mentality may make others uncomfortable or upset due to the emphasis on traditional femininity and subservience, plus domestic perfection (even though the author clearly states she does not believe in domestic perfection and similar ideology). If these ideologies make you upset or uncomfortable, or you find them downright insulting or laughable, then this book is ultimately not (and never will be) for you.
Now, on to the real meat of the review.
As a Pagan woman it often distresses me that the bulk of Traditionalist material is written from a biblical and Christian standpoint. It is hard- if not entirely impossible- to find material that is from a non denominational perspective and which talks about Traditionalism from a perspective other than a biblical one. This book is- unsurprisingly- no different; it is overly heavy on the Christian tones and is very biblically and Christian oriented- something which is written so thoroughly into the book that it is impossible to skip, gloss over, or separate from the material in any way.
It also often distresses me that there seems to be a war between the “modern feminist” and “traditionalist”, with traditionalist materials often taking derogatory stabs at the modern woman who finds empowerment outside the home (and vice versa with the modern feminist belittling and shaming the traditionalist). This book, however, has been a breath of fresh air on this front at the very least. While the author makes clear her own beliefs and airs her own greivances with certain modern mentalities (and accusations leveled at her, as most traditionalists face) she also writes with a non-judgemental attitude not only towards Housewifes, but also towards working wives and non-traditionalist women; she makes a note to regularly include “if you do”s, making it clear that she acknowledges that some women don’t- though she does sometimes fail in this. I found these areas easy to overlook, however.
Still, even with the heavy Christian and traditionalist emphasis, and having to wade through it for miles to find the practical… I found the book mirrored many of my own ideals surrounding Traditionalism and being a Housewife. Even with the biblical orientation, it was filled with solid advice that benefits anyone who is looking to improve their household and marriage- whether a Traditionalist or not, working or stay at home, and so on. The second section in the book (which acts as a domestic manual) was particularly helpful and I will definitely be adopting many of the suggestions for my own home.