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And Ladies of the Club" is a novelwritten by Helen Hooven Santmyerabout a group of women in the fictional town of Waynesboro, Ohio who begin a women's literary clubwhich evolves through the years into a ificant community service organization in the town.

The novel, which looks at the club as it changes throughout the years, spans decades in the lives of the women involved in the club, between and Many characters are introduced in the course of the novel, but the primary characters are Anne Gordon and Sally Rausch, who in are new graduates of the Waynesboro Female College. They marry soon after the opening of the book, and the decades that follow chronicle their 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.

On the day of their graduation from the Waynesboro Female College inbest friends Anne Alexander and Sarah "Sally" Cochran are invited along with several of the college's female teachers by Mrs. Lowrey, who along with her professor husband operates the college, to become founding members of a new local society, the Waynesboro Woman's Club.

The club is intended to promote culture and literature among the educated citizens of the Ohio town, while avoiding controversial subjects such as women's suffrage and other reform movements. Socially ambitious Sally agrees to because she believes the club might become important in the town, and wants to establish herself as a serious-minded member of adult society.

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Introspective Anne, the class valedictorians in order to support Sally. Other early members of the Club include Miss Louisa Tucker, a beautiful but cold mathematics teacher who later marries the commencement speaker General Deming; scholarly Amanda Reid, who overcame a poor background to earn a degree from Oberlin and has returned to teach at the Female College; Miss Agatha Pinney, an elderly teacher whose sciatica le to a secret addiction to the laudanum she is prescribed; Mary, Thomasina and Eliza Ballard, the wife and daughters of a prominent local judge; and the Misses Gardiner, two reclusive spinsters whose nephew, Douglas, attends Princeton and becomes a local attorney and judge.

The club's membership grows over time to include the daughters, granddaughters, and other relatives of the early members, and other society women, particularly the wives of the town's numerous and often-changing Protestant ministers. Although the club itself is framed as non-controversial, club meetings and social events sponsored by its members often lead to discussions and conflicts stemming from the widely varying social and political views of the members and their families on subjects such as race, class, ethnic and religious biases, women's rights, labor reform, and the morality of drinking alcohol, attending the theater and celebrating Christmas.

Anne, the daughter of a doctor, is in love with Dr. John "Dock" Gordon, her father's protege and a friend of her late brother Rob who was killed in the Civil War. Depressed by his war experiences, John gave up his medical practice for several years, but with Anne's encouragement s his practice and the two marry. Anne's father consents to the match, but warns her that John is too affected by the suffering he sees as a doctor and that he is likely to make a poor husband, so Anne will have to be very tolerant.

Sally develops a relationship with John's friend Captain Ludwig Rausch, who has bought a small local rope-making business and begun building it into a large, updated factory. Although Ludwig is a German immigrant, his ambitions match Sally's and her banker father, approving of his work ethic and prospects, agrees to their marriage. Thomasina Ballard also makes an unexpected marriage to a church organist as a result of a wedding poem she wrote for Anne.

Over the years, Anne and Sally continue their club activities while raising families. Although John is an intelligent and caring doctor, he is secretly unfaithful to Anne as a way of relieving the pressure of his past war memories and current responsibilities. Anne eventually finds out, and suspects that John has even fathered with his cousin Jessamine Stevens in New Orleans.

Although deeply hurt by John's behavior, Anne, remembering her father's advice, chooses to overlook it and even welcomes Jessamine and her son when they later move to Waynesboro. Meanwhile, Ludwig becomes a successful industrialist and Sally a prominent local hostess, later taking over the presidency of the club.

Ludwig hires Eliza Ballard as his secretary after she is forced to leave her position in her late father's former law firm due to gossiping about partner Doug Gardiner's romance with an Irish Catholic girl whom he later marries. Despite Eliza's gossip and sharp tongue occasionally causing trouble in the town, she shows a softer side by caring for Ariana McCune, a terminally ill young girl who ran away from her oppressively religious parents.

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Miss Pinney's laudanum addiction eventually becomes public knowledge after she appears increasingly disheveled and unable to control her primary school class. At the instigation of Louisa Deming, Miss Pinney is forced to retire on a small pension and her laudanum supply is cut off. Embarrassed and suffering severe withdrawal, she dies of a heart attack while trying to burn herself to death.

Elsa secretly loves her childhood friend Johnny, but Johnny falls in love with the Demings' daughter Julia, who like her mother is beautiful but cold. Julia is more affectionate towards Johnny's younger sister Binny, who is dazzled by Julia's beauty.

Binny gathers violets on a cold damp morning to make Julia a May basketand is rewarded by a kiss from Julia, but the dampness brings on an attack of rheumatic fever and Binny dies.

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Johnny and Julia marry and have a son, Tucker, while Elsa marries Gib Evans and has a daughter, Jennifer, who becomes Tucker's close friend. Shortly after the turn of the century, Anne is widowed when John has an accident rushing to help a patient in bad weather, and subsequently dies of pneumonia. Ellen and Paul have a secret romance and Ellen becomes pregnant, resulting in Paul quietly marrying her with Ludwig's consent since he is underage.

Although Paul and Ellen are happy, Sally disapproves of the marriage, cuts ties with her son and, in response to a barbed remark by Julia's mother Louisa, informs her about Johnny's affair with Norah. As a result, Julia divorces Johnny, moves to California with Tucker, and later marries a wealthy older man who is past the age of having sex. Johnny, suffering from heart disease and the strain of the divorce, soon dies.

Anne and the other members of the club are unaware that Sally was the one who revealed Johnny's affair to Louisa, and instead think Eliza spread the story. Sally eventually is reconciled with Paul after he and his family survive a devastating flood. Ludwig dies and his daughter Elsa takes over as president of the family-owned bank; she also succeeds her mother as president of the club. Elsa's son Ludwig takes control of his grandfather's company after returning from his service in the Great Warwhere he was gassed.

Tucker, separated from Jennifer by his parents' divorce, meets her again as an adult when they are both serving in France in the war, he as a medical corpsman and she as a nurse. After the war, they marry, and Tucker becomes a doctor and returns to take up his practice in Waynesboro. By the s, Sally is suffering from arteriosclerosis and asks Elsa to bring Anne so that she can confess to Anne that she was the one who revealed Johnny's affair.

Elsa talks her out of doing so, noting that Anne is happy with the company of Tucker, Jennifer and their children. As a result, Sally has a farewell visit with Anne but does not mention the situation involving Johnny. Sally dies soon afterwards. Inright after Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected president, Anne, the last surviving founding member of the club, dies and the Club commemorates the end of an era.

Due to the length of the book and its large of characters, this list is selective. From toSantmyer wrote three novels. The first two were published to little notice and the third was unpublished. She disliked Sinclair Lewis 's negative portrayal of small town America in his novel, Main Streetand conceived of Ladies as an antidote. The director of the Press, Weldon Kefauver, encouraged her to write more. In she submitted eleven boxes containing bookkeeping ledgers, her manuscript of Ladies in longhand. Kefauver accepted the novel, but wanted it trimmed.

By then, Santmyer was spending much of her time in a nursing home and she dictated changes to her friend Mildred Sandoe. InSantmyer was forced for health reasons to move permanently into a nursing home. Ladies was awarded the Ohioana Book Award in the category of fiction, [2] but otherwise gained little attention at the time. One local library patron, in returning the book, told the librarian that it was the greatest novel she had ever read. Another patron, Grace Sindell, overheard this and checked the book out herself.

After reading it, she agreed with the assessment and called her son Gerald in Hollywood. He was at first reluctant to look at the book, believing that anything that was that good would already be taken. Unable to find a copy in California, he ordered one directly from the publisher and agreed that it had great potential. He convinced his Hollywood friend Stanley Corwin of the same and the two purchased movie, TV and republication rights. They then convinced Putnam to republish the book. Before republication, the Book-of-the-Month club chose Ladies as their main selection.

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Suddenly, Santmyer and her novel were a media sensation, including front- coverage in the New York Times. The paperback edition, published by Berkley insold more than 2 million copies between June and September, making it the best-selling paperback in history at the time. Most reviews were enthusiastic. A few were grudging and even hostile. Book by Helen Hooven Santmyer. Ohio State University Press G. Putnam Berkley Books. Print hardback Print hardback Print paperback. Dewey Decimal. New York Times. Ohioana Library. Archived from the original on Retrieved Washington Post Book World.

AP News Archive Beta. And Ladies of the Club". Ladies of Club': life, death, boredom on Main Street". Chicago Tribune.

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