Dora’s Housekeeping

March 30, 2020

What we all need in the middle of a pandemic–if we have the time/energy/attention span–is some light reading. I’ll try to find some for you soon, but for now: Dora’s Housekeeping, by Elizabeth Stansbury Kirkland, is very dull.

You know how Ten Dollars Enough can drag a little when there are too many recipes in a row? Dora’s Housekeeping never stops dragging. I recommending getting your cookbook-in-novel’s-clothing fix elsewhere.

Oh, you want to know what it’s about? Well, Dora Greenwood is a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl with four younger siblings. Her mother is sent abroad to recover from an illness, and Dora takes over as housekeeper. She’s got a helpful aunt and cousin next door, but she has trouble finding and keeping a good cook, and she still has to go to school.

I liked that Dora has the capacity to be a bit of a brat–sure, you’re definitely the person most affected by your servant’s mother’s illness–and that her father is a little finicky and not always as nice as one would wish. But Kirkland really looks down on the servants, and there’s too many recipes to too little story.

This is a sort of a sequel to Six Little Cooks; or, Aunt Jane’s Cooking Class, in which Dora’s helpful aunt teaches Dora’s cousins to cook. I think I won’t read it.



  1. Thank you for the warning label! I do sometimes check books like this if there’s a point of ambiguity about a recipe/ingredient, since sometimes “novelizations” include details that regular recipe books fail to (Ten Dollars Enough is rich in this), and instructional literature for the uninitiated sometimes actually succeeds in being *almost* fully instructive to the uninitiated (as opposed to “to taste” or “until it’s the right thickness”), but otherwise I will sheer off from this one…

    Re: light reading, though: have you read Edgar Jepson past the well-chronicled Pollyooly, Tinker, Noggs, and the Terrible Twins? (I think I also saw a review of yours for a mystery, but I am not in Mystery Mode right now.) I just tried dipping into two of his other books on Hathitrust in hopes of finding company for the aforementioned; the first chunk of Whitaker’s Dukedom was not to my liking (the protagonist got progressively more distasteful to me; and I glanced at the ending, and he gets away with it all, which… nope). I have gotten farther in The Four Philanthropists and while it is at least more entertaining and populated with more likeable characters, I am uncertain as to whether it will manage to succeed in being a fully enjoyable book and it is also a little.. weird.

    (that said, I *did* realize that Joseph C. Lincoln has a stack of books on Hathitrust which aren’t on Project Gutenberg, so I’m set for reading for the very-immediate future. :-) )

    • Yeah, I’ve only read Edgar Jepson’s books about kids, and one mystery, which was…fine. I think he had just one thing he was good at.

      I am putting together a list of comfort reads with competent characters, but they’re all or mostly books I’ve reviewed before. But I’m currently reading Our Miss York, by Edwin Bateman–about a young woman with a business career–and so far so good.

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