Monday, May 15, 2017

WInsome Womanhood (Book Review/Notes)

Somehow Winsome Womanhood by Margaret E. Sangster got on my reading list. Written in 1900, it provides helpful advice and guidance to women of all ages. In a way, it reminds me of a grandmother or mother sitting down with her daughter and imparting wisdom that will help shape the life of the next generation in a positive way.

Although some of the concepts are outdated and reflect life in the early 20th century, there still are plenty of ideas that are relevant to life today.

Below are passages that resonated with me.


...Especially to your mother, for a few years, during which she meets and passes through perilous experiences incidental to middle age, you may be as a guardian angel. Stay with her, dear child, if you can, you will not be sorry bye and bye.

It isn't the thing you do, Dear
It's the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of a heartache
At the setting of the sun
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flower you might have sent, Dear
Are you haunting ghosts at night.

I read that poem above and so many thoughts came back about my Mom and what more I could have done. Even though I felt like I did a lot, there was always more I should have done.

I put way too much time into other things that weren't as important or that were important but weren't balanced in terms of time. In hindsight, I'd re-prioritize my time and spend it doing the things that matter the most with family.


Letters to one's family...should be punctually sent at due intervals....It goes to my heart to see the disappointed faces of father and mother when day follows day and Jenny does not write. They conjure up every possible reason for her failure except the right one which is that she is thoughtless and preoccupied, and her time slips by before she is aware that it is gone.

Love letters...should not be sentimental. One should never to any one write in a silly babyish style, or say a word of which she might in the future be ashamed.


A well furnished mind is like a beautifully appointed home: it has rooms for many things, and must be kept with constant vigilance....Simple neglect is more destructive than continual use. We often meet women who have ceased to grow because they have ceased to study, and ceased to be receptive and responsive.

A girl's greatest charm is not in a graceful figure, nor a beautiful face; it is in her power to interest those whom she meets.


Self-pity is a badge of weakness, and work done for money alone, is never noble work. The amount earned may indeed measure the worker's talent and it is a legitimate object to toil well and worthily for honorable hire, but one must not be sordid; one must dignify the work for its own sake; one must care for the enterprise and the business home, and the work she is doing.


Happiness is naturally the uppermost thought in the minds of both, when two young people meet and love. But there is a nobler thing than happiness of which they should make sure. Can they help each other?


The wife who would be in every sense a helpmeet will not waste money: she will study frugality, and, to the end of achieving the best results, will keep very thorough and careful accounts.


Do not let rust gather on the mind. Even if tired and a little depressed, seek the tonic and cordial of the finest literature.

Into the home admit no degrading book...choose rather for your reading and your living, the book, as the friend, on whose reputation rests no stain.


More trouble, strain, and discouragement in home life are due to mismanagement of money than to any other cause.


The whole education of a girl from her infancy onward should be a preparation for motherhood,, and this, not because she may marry and become a mother, but rather for the reason that the upbringing and nurture of the race in its earliest and more impressionable years is in the molding hands of woman.

Every girl in her relation to those younger than herself, and to some extent in her friendships with others, of her own sex not only, but of the opposite, is the better for having in her nature something of the tender and brooding love and compassion which are the mother's finest endowments.


No mother does well to put herself too far in the background. She is the planet, her children the satellites, and she cannot step down from her proper place without disturbance to the solar system.

She must make much of herself for their sakes: she must not fall below a high standard; she must be bright, helpful, sympathetic, eager-hearted, and young with them.


So swiftly fleet the years, so whirl the hours and days and weeks away, as the waves rush over onward to the sea that "What thou doest, thou must do quickly" is the word spoken to us as we stand in the midst of our years."

We should make much of the home anniversaries, as the children are about us. Birthdays come and go. Let every birthday be a festival, a time when the gladness of the house finds expression in flowers, in gifts, in a little fete.

(The author goes on to describe how every special day should be celebrated: anniversaries, graduation, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and any day in which anything "sweet and beautiful thing happened.")


Every child's birthright is a happy home. No human foresight  can provide for the child a happy life. The future may be full of shoals and quicksands. But there is gladness enough to go round the whole world while the children are little and in the home nest.


(The last chapter of the book focused on women who are at the end of their lives and eventually nearing death.)

Perhaps this waiting time may be one of physical weakness, and there may be a loosening grasp on the engagements which once seemed all important. The hardest lesson some of us ever learn is that life can go on without us.

It is fine when a woman can abdicate gracefully and graciously, not clinging to duties too burdensome for her strength, or stubbornly asserting herself when the day for her successor's domination has arrived.


To the serenity of our waiting for the final Angel of Deliverance, all things contribute - memory, slow to receive the affairs of the moment, immaterial now, is back in the years when we were young.

Hope weaves around us her rainbow arc.

Love is unspeakably calm, free from gusts of passion, and pure as the snows of Lebanon.

Contentment surrounds us as an atmosphere.

We are drifting, drifting onward and we fear no "moaning at the bar," for we shall soon "see our Pilot face to face."


Rita said...

There are still a lot of wise words for today scattered therein. Some things have changed but some are eternal. :)

B Karth said...

I came upon your blog recently and now look forward to reading it so much. I am in that last category and wish I could have "do-overs". But your love with your family is so very encouraging that the world will go on with love planted in the younger generation. Thank you for all your insights and education with tenderness to your precious "little" ones. I wish you many happy times preparing and training your children to be beautiful and thoughtful adults.

Daniela said...

What an interesting post, darling friend, thank you for introducing this so wonderful book to us, I'm looking for it on the web since I have to read it, you know how deep is my love for ancient times and culture !

Wishing you a most lovely weekend ahead,
I'm sending hugs and blessings to you


Laura Smith said...

Such a lovely post! This inspired me to get a letter out straight away to my niece. She will be a camp counselor at a Christian camp this summer and they do not have access to cell phones for long periods of time! I'm sure a note and token will be much appreciated.