This April marks the 92nd anniversary of Re-Creations, published by J.B. Lippincott Company on April 19,1924.
One of the most interesting things that Grace Livingston Hill did through her books was to educate her readers. She taught many of us how to follow Christ, but she also taught a very large "classroom" of students how to make their houses a home. Homemaking instructions abound in this perennial favorite!
Re-Creations is a must-read and many GLH fans enjoy this particular book every spring. It tells the story of a young college girl, Cornelia Copely, who is called home from her carefree life when her mother has a breakdown and is sent away by the doctor for a complete rest.
Cornelia has spent the last few years studying Interior Decorating and is enjoying every part of college life and her friends there. When her father writes that there is not enough money to care for her mother and still afford college, much less for them to hire someone to take care of the home and younger children while he works, she is devastated that she must leave school with no hope of returning to graduate.
She is not at all sure her departure is necessary—in fact, she doesn’t understand why they couldn’t have managed to keep her in school until graduation—especially since she’s not been home for over two years. Even on the train she says to herself, “after all, mother isn’t hopelessly ill."
Cornelia feels as though she and her family are practically strangers and they feel the same way about her. To make matters worse, there has been financial trouble and the comfortable family home is no more—they have moved into a shabby house in an even shabbier neighborhood.
On her first morning home, Cornelia overhears just what her brother and sister think of her indifference to the family’s troubles and to the sacrifices made so that she could stay in college even this long. She is stung by the sharpness of their harsh words and wonders how much of what they said is true.
Going from room to room and seeing the desolation all around does much to unnerve her. All around her she finds things in disarray, many things not even unpacked or arranged since the family moved into the house. Many of the beautiful furnishings she grew up with are nowhere in sight, perhaps sold to keep her in college.
The more she sees of the house, the more Cornelia sees herself as a self-centered, unloving daughter and knows what she has to do—she must work as hard as she can to turn this tumble-down house into a real home and find a way for five strangers to become a family again.
In Chapter 4, Cornelia is taking stock of the supplies in the kitchen and making a grocery list. She finds a half bottle of soured milk... "That would make a wonderful gingerbread," and she wrote down "Molasses, soda, brown sugar, baking-powder," on her list. Here's a recipe that she might have used to make that soft gingerbread. It's from the 1914 Pillsbury Cookbook.