Favorite BIG books # 1 “…and the Ladies of the Club”

ladies of the clubNow, don’t be misled–this is just #1 in the series, not necessarily #1 in my heart, but it is darned close to the top of my favorite big books list.

Octagenarian Helen Hooven Santmyer took the nation by storm when her massive and oh-so-readable novel was picked up by a commercial publisher in the 1980s. “…And the Ladies of the Club,” is one of those almost never seen anymore multi-generational sagas that 300 page limit Book Clubs have put out of existence. I pine for such books.

This one has it all as only a small town can. Why, just to prove there’s nothing new under the sun, it even has an isolationist homeschooling family! How about that! Principally, though, it tells the story of two best friends from the day of their graduation from the town’s female seminary just after the Civil War down thru their old age in the early 20th Century.


As far as I am concerned this is social history fiction at its finest. I would love to see WGBH — Boston’s PBS affiliate team up with some fabulous producer and make a multi-year series out of this one. Probably since it is set in a fictionalize Xenia, Ohio, snobs would ignore it.

Like Downton Abbey, it has it all–love, social climbing, cross-generational romance, the joys and sorrows of marriage and motherhood–but all told thru the lives of the ladies of the town’s women’s club–a club in which they exercise their minds and present an essay each month. Imagine getting your Book Club to do that!

“…and the Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer


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