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And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer
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Nov 04, 09

Read in November, 2009

Although the length of this book (the edition I read had over 1100 pages) might scare some readers away, I actually quite enjoyed it. The plot line, centered around a small Ohio town from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, leaves you feeling like you were there and the characters are real and compelling. The author does an excellent job of getting in each character's head with a personal honesty and a historical honesty. The characters flaws make them more real. At the same time, she presents view points (women's roles and rights, for example) that were common at the time without overly apologizing for them. She just presents things as they were, including views that we now consider out-dated and even prejudiced. She showed how this happened with good people--things were just different then. I really appreciated that.

Interestingly, it's not the plot details that make this book so long, but the historical details. The author goes in to some depth about politics and the attitudes of the nation directly after the Civil War, leading up to WWI and right after WWI. For me personally, the history got a bit long. But it was interesting and it definitely created context.

By the end of the book, I truly felt like I had watched this town go through a whole generation and like I understood a lot of what the citizens were feeling. The great span of years covered had a big impact on me--more than I was expecting. I closed the book having been reminded that life is short, that our time with our loved ones in this life can often be too short, and that children grow up so fast. I appreciated the resolve of one of the main characters to cherish the life given to her and to be happy in spite of the sorrows that came her way. A good example of the power of the mind and of our attitude.




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