And Ladies of the Club (Santmyer)

...And Ladies of the Club
Helen Hooven Santmyer, 1982
Penguin Group USA
1184 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780425174401

...And Ladies of the Club, a novel by Helen Hooven Santmyer, recounts the lives of a group of women in Waynesboro, Ohio, who begin a study club. Over the years the club evolves into a influential community service organization in the town.

The book spans decades in the lives of the women involved in the club, between 1868 and 1932. Numerous characters are introduced in the course of the novel, but primary are Anne Gordon and Sally Rausch, who in 1868 as the book begins are new graduates of the Waynesboro Female Seminary. The book flows through decades, as it chronicles the two women's marriages and those of their children and grandchildren. Santmyer focuses not just on the lives of the women in the Club, but also their families, friends, politics, and developments in their small town and the larger world.

Originally published by the Ohio State University Press in 1982 and only selling a few hundred copies, the book was chosen as a Book of the Month Club selection in 1984, making it a best-seller that year. The recognition earned its 88-year-old author critical acclaim and literary recognition; according to the back cover of the 1985 paperback edition, the novel took Santmyer more than 50 years to write. (From Wikipedia.)

Author Bio
• Birth—November 25, 1895
• Where—Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
• Death—February 21, 1986
• Where—Xenia, Ohio
• Education—Wellesley College;Cambridge University (a
   Rhodes Scholar)

Helen Hooven Santmyer was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Xenia, Ohio, when she was five years old. She went to Wellesley College in 1918 and was active in the struggle for women's rights. She attended Oxford University in England and was one of the first female Rhodes Scholars. When she returned to the United States with her first book published, she expected fame and fortune but found instead the Great Depression.

Later, she returned to Wellesley College to teach in the English Department. She also wrote poetry that appeared in anthologies such as The Bookman Anthology of Verse (1922) from Doran and Company. Her sonnet, "The Prairie Town," from that collection indicates her talent as a poet.

In 1935, Helen moved back to Xenia becoming the Dean of Women and the head of Cedarville University English department. She was 88 when her most famous work ...And Ladies of the Club was published—it was a best-seller in 1984. She also wrote Herbs and Apples; Ohio Town; and The Fierce Dispute.

She received most of her fame late in life and died on February 21, 1986, in Xenia, Ohio, aged 90. She was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1996. (From Wikipedia.)

Book Reviews
(Pre-internet works have few mainstream press reviews online. See Amazon and Barnes & Noble for helpful customer reviews.)

A great novel that is American to its gently memorable, so bursting with life, that those who abandon themselves to its pages will find it claiming a permanent place close to their hearts.
New York Daily News

A warm, evocative, often hilarious picture of society, culture, politics and family life.
Atlanta Constitution

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