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Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House: The Art and Science of Keeping House Paperback – 13 Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (13 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841881805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841881805
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 4 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

Home Comforts is a comprehensive reference book that should serve homemakers well and induce a greater appreciation for the effort and specialised knowledge that go into keeping house. Virtually everyone enjoys a crisply ironed dress shirt, clean sheets on a well-made bed, and a delicious home-cooked meal. Yet housekeeping today stands as a somewhat neglected, if not maligned, job. But as author Cheryl Mendelson points out, keeping house well can be a rewarding position--it allows you to provide for the physical and emotional comfort of yourself and your loved ones. It's also not an easy job--there's much to be learned about properly managing a home, and Mendelson has set out to provide the definitive guide to doing just that.

Mendelson, a homemaker, lawyer, and mother, learned about housekeeping from an early age from her grandmothers, one Appalachian, the other Italian. The two grandmothers taught her that although different ways of keeping house can be appropriate, there are generally smarter, faster, and more creative ways of housekeeping that make it less of a chore and more of an art. In a practical, authoritative tone, Mendelson discusses the ins and outs of homemaking, such as washing dishes, recommended cleaning methods for various surfaces, housekeeping for those with pets or allergies, and emergency preparedness and safety procedures.

Mendelson's well-researched book includes meticulous sections on food (for example, which foods belong in the fridge versus the pantry, food storage times, picking the freshest fruits and vegetables, and keeping your kitchen and food sanitary) as well as laundry (caring for various fabrics, how to read--and read between the lines of--clothing care labels, and removing stains). Mendelson covers a lot of ground, and as she herself points out, readers shouldn't feel required to do everything mentioned in the book--simply pick the activities that seem appropriate for your particular home.--Kris Law --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"An extraordinary achievement that has no peer in this century and may well have none in the next." -- "Newsweek"

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By And You May Find Yourself on 3 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a treasure. Mendelson's writing is simple and elegant, but it is also thoughful. No attempts to joke around or talk down to the reader here. She gives you the facts, explains clearly what needs explaining, goes into as much detail as you care to pursue, and covers just about everything that makes a home run smoothly. Being a person who likes to know the whys and wherefores of anything, I enjoyed her explanations of various aspects of housework.
However, the originality and value of this book lie not in the detailed instructions about how to do anything in the house (using the hoover attachments, properly laundering your delicates, avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen, ironing various fabrics, to mention some of the basics); this material is, I'm sure, covered in other books too, though perhaps not as thoroughly. It is rather the new attitude it brings towards the home. I realised, after reading her wonderful introductory essay, that though cooking is considered an art form we see every other household job as just a chore. In essence, Mendelson rehabilitates housework. The importance of well-maintained clothes and clean living quarters for our state of mind has never been more eloquently put.
She inspired this single woman to treat her home as her sanctuary, rather than her temporary digs, and to perceive that there is much more to making the bed and cleaning the counter to domestic drudgery. Suddenly, even hoovering seems much easier.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By dagmar.slater@tesco.net on 10 Mar. 2002
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I grew up in a well kept household with a mother who thought there was only one way to keep 'proper' house - her way. This book brought back many childhood memories, good and bad.
I had always hated housework and while I was working, I had a perfect excuse to ignore my home as much as possible - until it got too bad. When I then became a homemaker, after my son was born, I didn't really know where to start and bought the book for an esoteric read, more than anything.
Cheryl Mendelsohn couldn't possibly be a lawyer, lecturer and homemaker on the scale she proclaims, because her book nearly caused a physical and mental breakdown in me who only has two kids to look after and one house to keep (I know whereof I speak as I used to tutor at University and have a law degree). Although being a flaming good read, it causes obsessive compulsive behaviour and I hate to point out that no matter how much you sterilise your kitchen tops, bacteria and microbes are a fact of life and no amount of domestos will change that. As to ironing underpants, as one of the reviewers has said 'get a life' (same thing goes for teatowels and sheets).
I decided that I would fold my underpants the way she suggests, but that apart from keeping a neat, tidy and clean (though not sterilised) house, the rest of my available time would be better spent going for walks with my children and playing with them. Any additional free time is given over to finding more esoteric, enjoyable reads; so my husband has a wife who can talk about more than the best way to hoover the house.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
I collect housekeeping books. This one is the best! It's so comprehensive. Every person from late teens onwards should be given a copy just to make them aware of what it means to look after your home (and yourselves). It would make an excellent gift for newlyweds, too. With a huge gap in handing down housekeeping techniques from mother to daughter, this book fills the gap. It does go into a lot of detail and you could get obsessive if you followed every bit of advice. But there's so much to learn, I really recommend it. Covers cooking, storing food safely, modern food bugs, how to lay a table, entertain... the list is endless. Isn't based on using au pairs or gadgets - this is about doing it yourself and the satisfaction that comes with that!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
I've had this book for about 5 years and I bought it after seeing the author on television. It is absolutely indispensable and makes an excellent housewarming present for those moving out of home for the very first time. It has the answer for everything and means you don't have to phone your mum about every little thing when you start living on your own. It's so well researched and intelligently written and the footnotes and bibliography are really useful too. I love this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 May 2002
Format: Hardcover
I can't praise this book highly enough. If you had a nice domestic mummy who showed you the housekeeping ropes as a child (and you were girly enough to learn without being under duress) then Home Comforts is probably not the book for you as you are quite sure you know everything already. Nevertheless it is such a thorough household resource you could do far worse than checking out the chapters on the fabrics and surfaces that are brought into your home to find out what care they need and what their behaviour is like before buying them. If nothing else, you'll never look at bed linen the same way ever again.
IF on the other hand both you and your mother had better things to do as a child but now you're all grown up with a stye of your own and no idea what to do with it, Home Comforts is ideal.
First rule, DONT PANIC. The author is quite clear that you can't do everything suggested in the book, there is far too much. If you don't have a life feel free to try but get ready to fail, you'd need a psychiatric condition to do it. If you can be content to take only what you need in doses small enough for you to handle then Home Comforts can teach you to wash up hygenically, how to make a bed, and reveal what basic stocks of equipment, food and linen go into making a comfortable home. Poor housekeeping seems overwhelming to correct when you've no idea where to start. Home Comforts shows you where, how and most importantly, why.
Buy it in hardback. It's a keeper.
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