Mar 08, 11
This sweeping saga not only entertains, but educates. I was sadly lacking in my knowledge of the post-civil war era, but after reading this book, I can no longer claim that.
The focus of the book on two main characters, their descendants, their friends, and their town provides a picture that is both intimate and broad. Basing the story in Ohio when most of the elected leaders hailed from that state gave national significance to the lives of the characters.
I was rather disappointed by the second half of the book. It just seemed very depressing and sad for quite a while there. I was also tempted to quit reading it, but fortunately, I did not. The last hundred pages or so really redeemed the second half. The amount of death and destruction in the second half was really just a realistic amount that I am not used to seeing in fiction, especially chick-lit!
I believe I caught a glimpse of the author, both in the main character, Anne, and in the young novelist, Tess Stevens. As the author wrote this book over a period of 50 years, Anne's meditations on growing old probably reflected Santmeyer's own feelings about her aging process. Tess notes that she wants to begin writing a sweeping saga in 1930...which is probably about when Helen began writing "...And Ladies of the Club." It would be gratifying to know more about the history of the author and find correlations between her real life experiences and that of her characters. Unfortunately, I have found little information about her thus far.
Ultimately, it was enjoyable to spend a month in Santmeyer's world.