I have a well-worn and well-loved copy of this book that I won't part with...I read it over and over again. I've read it at least once every two years for over a decade. I've loaned it out as well - everyone who has read my copy has loved it. A wonderful story full of intertwining characters and plots. I highly recommend it!
From a historical perspective it reviews the lives of a group of women from just after the civil war until they all die. What struck me was how much families are different from 1932 until the present, and how little they changed in the time leading up to that. Seldom do we currently see people growing up, marrying, moving in with their in-laws, and staying in the same community, but that is how it was in small town Ohio. The characters are so alive, I could barely put the book down. It is hard to describe how wonderful this book was to read except to say, at the end I wanted more.
Undoubtedly this book has a slow beginning. But it is definitely worth the effort. The author brings a whole town to life - Waynesboro, Ohio. Each and every character is described so vividly that I felt as though I actually knew these people. The book follows post-Civil War "Waynesboro" (a fictional name for a real city - Xenia, Ohio) through the next 50 years of the townspeople's lives. The main group of characters are the members of the Waynesboro Ladies Club.
Although this book is over 1000 pages, I started rationing myself as I neared the end because I couldn't stand the thought of it ending.
One gets completely absorbed in the life of a small Ohio town in the second half of the 19th century. The characters became my friends.
And as a bonus I learned so much about such things as rope making, ladies' clothing, the Civil War, Reconstruction, economic policy, race relations, the practice of medicine, immigration, suffragettes, religious practices, etc.
I know - you're probably thinking is sounds so boring reading about the members of ladies' literary society but you are so wrong!
Ms. Santmyer wrote this book over a long period of time. The story encompasses basically one town -- her home town -- in the midwest but could have been almost anywhere in the United States. It is an autobiography, a history, and a charming fictional account of the families whose efforts built the community. I read it many years ago but it remains one of my favorites.
Set in a s,all Ohio town and spanning 60 years,"...and Ladies of the Club" centers on the members of a book club and their struggles to understand themselves and each other, and the tumultuous world they live in,(1864 -1924). 1176 pages 3.5 stars
a wonderful book, written over a 60 year period starting at the end of
the civil war and ending in the depression..a celebration of small town life that involved me so emotionally that i cried and was enthralled as i read the events that shaped their lives..loved it
From jacket: from the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War...tells the warm, intimate yet epic tale of the lifetimes of two women in a small Ohio town and the other members of the Waynesboro ladies' literary society.
This classic novel covers the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War to the threshold of the New Deal.This tale tells the story of two women in a small Ohio town and the other members of the Waynesboro ladies' literary society.
Although the ISBN on this listed the book at a hardcover edition, it is a paperback. It is a looooooong story...over 1100 pages. If you have the time and patience to read about a handful of women who start a literary club in 1868 and follow them and their families through 1932, this is the book for you. It is well-written with much period detail and very likeable characters.
This book came highly recommended by my sister. I could not get through it. I keep telling myself that I will go back to it and try from where I left off, but it is probably too big for that to ever happen.
Book Description - Amazon
A #1 New York Times bestseller--and an American classic--now in trade paperback...
A groundbreaking bestseller with two and a half million copies in print, "...And Ladies of the Club" centers on the members of a book club and their struggles to understand themselves, each other, and the tumultuous world they live in. A true classic, it is sure to enchant, enthrall, and intrigue readers for years to come.
"A great novel that is American to its core...so 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
"A warmly human story...never flags from first page to last." --Publishers Weekly
"It is hard to think of a better place to spend the summer than in [Helen Hooven Santmyer's] world." --Cosmopolitan
"Should not be missed by anyone who has enjoyed the works of Sinclair Lewis, Thornton Wilder or even Laura Ingalls Wilder."--UPI
About the Author
Helen Hooven Santmyer was born in 1895 and lived in Xenia, Ohio. In addition to her career as a writer, she worked as an English professor, a dean of women, and a librarian.