Dorothy Canfield wrote The Home-Maker in the early part of the twentieth century. It's the story of two people in roles that don't suit either one and what happens when the roles are switched.
Lester and Evangeline are married with three young children: Helen, Henry, and Stephen. Evangeline is dedicated to homemaking. Her home is always spotless, meals are always wholesome, tasty, and served on time, and her children always look well-dressed in the clothes she sews for them. But Evangeline is a slave to her idea of what a homemaker should be. And she is angry, bitter, and sharp-tongued. She organizes and controls her home and family to the point of misery.
Her daughter, Helen, is thin and nervous. Her older son, Henry, and her husband, Lester, suffer from digestive problems. Her youngest son, Stephen, is an angry, mean, pre-school-aged tyrant. Evangeline herself suffers from an extreme case of eczema, with oozing sores on her arms and back that have to be kept bandaged.
Lester, an accountant, is not really cut out for the world of business. He is gentle and his head is filled with poetry. Nevertheless, he works hard each day for his small salary. Everything changes when a tragic accident leaves Lester paralyzed and unable to work.
Evangeline goes to look for work and is hired as a stock-girl in department store where her husband used to work as accountant. Her skills, intelligence, and good business sense bring her to the attention of the store owner and his wife and Evangeline is quickly promoted. Lester stays home in his wheelchair caring for the children and with their help keeping the household running.
Evangeline blooms in the business world and finally has a better place to direct all her energy. Lester thrives at home loving and instructing the children. Everyone is happy and cheerful and healthy.
When I was a child, I read Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, but this is the only adult fiction of hers I've read. (I'm reading a biography of Emily Post now, and she knew - or at least knew of - Dorothy Canfield. Emily Post's life and those of her contemporaries in New York high society in the late 19th century and early 20th century seem to have been like Evangeline's.)
It's an unusual book, probably more so when it was first published, and it left me with a lot to think about.