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Helen Hooven Santmyer Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

...And Ladies of the Club (1982)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Herbs and Apples (1985)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fierce Dispute (1987)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Farewell Summer (1988)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Ohio Town:A Portrait of Xenia, Ohio (1956)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Helen Hoover Santmyer was a literary fiction author from Cincinnati Ohio best known for her debut novel “…And Ladies of the Club.” She was born to a father that was a medical student before he decided to pursue business. He moved to Xenia and got a job with rope manufacturer RA Kelly Company. Since she was a ten year old child, she had dreamed of becoming an author and kept a diary where she would write her musings. She was inspired by her grandfathers both of whom served on the Union side of the Civil War. As a teen, she went to Wellesley College and during her undergraduate years she started publishing her poetry. Just like most of her classmates were influenced by “A Book of Princeton Verse” written by several Princeton students going back several years. By 1917 she was writing in “The Wellesley College Magazine.”

After graduating from Princeton, Santmayer started working at Sribners in New York City where she was an editorial secretary. She then went back home to Xenia and taught at Wellesley College as well as locally while she was writing “Herbs and Apples,” her first novel. The novel was based on her life in College in her hometown Xenia and her work experiences at Scribner’s. She would then go to Oxford University which is where she met Ridgely Torrence, the poet with whom she would become fast friends. She would be awarded bachelors in Literature degree after writing a thesis on 17 century female authors. After graduating from Oxford, she went back home and made friends with librarian Mildred Sandoe, who would become her literary assistant and long term companion and friend. Her second novel “The Fierce Dispute” was first published in 1929.

In 1935 Helen Hoover Santmayer started working at Cedarville College as English department head and Dean of Women. She continued writing during this time but because of her health her pace was greatly slowed down. She quit her position at Cedarville when the Baptist association that had purchased the college demanded Biblical literalism by the entire faculty. She went back to Xenia and found a job as a research librarian at the Dayton Public Library. When she retired in 1959, she got back into full time publishing and writing with OSU Press. By April 1983, she was nearly blind from emphysema when she moved into a nursing home. She died in 1986 aged 90 after seeing several of her novels become bestselling titles.

“…And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmayer is a magnificent portrait of the changes in a small Ohio town beginning in the years of the Civil War and right up to the 20th century. Following the end of the Civil War, the country is moving into the golden age. It is in this setting that the women of a small town in the Deep South come together to start an intellectual club to pass the time. Anne and Sally are two of the charter members of the club that also happen to be recently graduated students and best friends. They are engaged to be married to some prosperous and handsome young men. The novel follows their stories and that of other members of the club through happiness, marriage, losses, childbirth, illnesses and grandchildren among other things. Through these women you come to love and know the club members almost intimately. It is a fascinating look into the changes over the women and their families over the years.

“Herbs and Apples” by Helen Hooven Santmayer is a biographical work that still manages to be thrilling and in some parts surprising. The lead is a young woman named Derrick Thornton, who is just coming of age during the dawn of the 20th century. She had always wanted to become an author since she was very young. She is now living in New York City where she shares her dreams and hopes for the future with other women. She is not unlike her peers whose priorities do not have family, marriage and love as achievements. It is a very philosophical work that shows that while the times may be different many realities of the world have not changed.

Helen Hooven Santmayer’s novel “The Fierce Dispute” is a novel full of simple sentimentality that retains its flavor years after its publication in 1929. The novel is set in the small Ohio town where most of the author’s work is also set. Three genteel women live in what had once been an opulent and grand mansion but is now nothing but a dilapidated house with an Iron Gate fronting. The three include Mrs. Baird, a disapproving grandmother, Hilary, her shamed daughter and Lucy Anne the granddaughter. The three live isolated from the community around them very rarely venturing out. The tension between daughter and mother for the affection and spirit of the child drives the plot. It is all about the mystery of Lucy’s father, the old hardwood piano in the attic and mysterious musician.

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