This is a book I could scarcely put down. It describes the Christian patriarchy (also known as "Biblical patriarchy") movement, which is something I am interested in, know a bit about, and to some extent identify with.
The book has three sections. The first section ("Wives") deals with the "biblical womanhood" movement, which emphasises wives submitting to and helping their husbands at home. The second section ("Mothers") looks at the "Quiverfull" movement, which eschews contraception and emphasises a couple having as many children as God will give them. The name of the movement comes from Psalm 127 - "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth / Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them". The final section ("Daughters") deals with biblical courtship, while also touching on the "Stay At Home Daughters" movement, exemplified by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, and their book So Much More. This emphasises girls staying at home (and more importantly, under their fathers' authority) until marriage.
The title of the book is therefore a bit misleading, but the subtitle is accurate - all these three things come broadly under the heading of "Christian patriarchy". However, it must be pointed out that the author is not a Christian. Joyce doesn't seem to understand what "faith" is - she feels that the Christian hymn "Trust and Obey" is bleak (p. 154). She mentions Bible verses that adherents of patriarchy would appeal to, but has no real ability to interact with them. And yet, where the reader may have expected antagonism, Joyce is surprisingly dispassionate. She devotes a chapter to the story of a lady who was excommunicated from Doug Phillips' church, and tells only her side of the story, but is still not wholly sympathetic to her, and the chapter ends with this lady firing her divorce lawyer for failing to abide by her wishes (p. 129). Excommunication appears a few times in this book, and Joyce refers to an interesting Wall Street Journal article on the subject. She doesn't seem to realise, however, that pulpit announcements about church discipline have always been part of Reformed liturgy.
The worst feature of the book is the complete and utter lack of footnotes. This is totally inexcusable for a book like this, and I don't know how the publisher (Beacon Press, which belongs to the Unitarian Universalist Association) let her get away with it. Yes, the book is mostly the fruit of personal interviews, but Joyce is still constantly quoting published material. For example, she refers to a book (The Church is Israel Now) that argues for "replacement theology", and she asserts that "Christian reviewers condemned the book for promoting a form of theological anti-Semitism" (p. 150). Well, which reviewers? Who was it? My guess is that the reviewers would be premillenial dispensationalists themselves.
Quiverfull also contains numerous silly mistakes. Joyce claims that when Al Mohler became President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he required all the faculty to pledge allegiance to the Westminster Confession of Faith (p. 34). What Mohler enforced, of course, was the Abstract of Principles, which, while derived from the WCF, differs from it in affirming believers' baptism by immersion. Joyce also says that Pope Benedict XVI "canonized an Italian farmer's wife for bearing twelve children" (p. 141). Joyce is referring to Eurosia Fabris, except that Fabris was beatified, not canonized, and she had eleven children, not twelve, and two of her children were adopted.
Perhaps the most bizarre claim of the book comes when Joyce attempts to link the Quiverfull movement with holocaust denial - she sees both the movement and the Holocaust as "manipulating population as a means of cultural domination, whether through limiting one group's freedom or ability to reproduce or mandating higher fertility from another group" (p. 150).
Finally, this book is almost exclusively focused on the movement in America, apart from discussions of population decline in Europe, and of conservatism in Poland. Now, when Joyce suggests that most Quiverfull families are poor (p. 206), this may well be the case in the U.S., but in Australia the situation would be quite different. My calculations based on this website tell me that a low-income Australian family with eight children under 16 would receive about $1200 per week in family payments, which is over $60,000 a year. The only catch is that (as of last July) you are required to have your children immunized. Hence, no-one in Australia can really say that they cannot afford to have more children.
By and large, Quiverfull is a fair portrayal of the Christian patriarchy movement, and most adherents of the ideas would be able to recognise themselves in the descriptions of people in the book. The movement is quite diverse, even theologically, embracing Reconstructionists, Fundamentalists and Pentecostals. Joyce is antagonistic to the movement, but often sympathetic to the individual women she interviews. Yet one feels that she is not sure quite what to make of her subject matter. In fact, she concludes the book by describing a woman in the movement, and frankly admitting "I don't know what to make of her" (p. 240). In this way, however, the reader is delivered from a heavy-handed evaluation, and is free to make up his or her own mind.