Tag Archives: Bibliophilic Friday

Bibliophilic Friday: And Ladies of the Club


Good morning Everyone!

One of the Paperback Covers for the book

One of the Paperback Covers for the book

This week on Bibliophilic Friday, I am going to share with you the first book we’ve talked about that is out of print and not available as an e-book.  It’s worth the trouble of finding it, though.  This is another one of those books that I have read to pieces – I’m currently on my third copy, although this is the first hard bound copy I have owned, and slowly but surely edging my way forward to needing copy number four.

The book is Helen Hooven Santmyer’s And Ladies of the Club.   It is the story of a group of women in a fictional town named Waynesboro in Ohio who form a literary club in the late 1860’s, shortly after the end of the Civil War.  The book follows the lives of these women from the founding of the club through to the death of the last founding member in the 1930’s after Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected for the first time.  This summary does not do the book justice.

If I had to select two main characters for the book, I would choose Anne Alexander and Sarah (Sally) Cochran, as they are named in the beginning of the book.  We follow both of them through the ups and downs of their lives, pregnancies, marital issues, children, deaths and all of the myriad threads that add up to an individual’s life.  The richness of the novel lies not just in the vivid settings that Ms. Santmeyer deftly weaves through the narrative, but also in the way she brings her characters to life – by the end of the book, you feel like you know and are friends with not only Anne and Sally, but many of the supporting cast – Amanda, who received a degree from Oberlin College at a time when few women did, Kitty Edwards, full of spirit and life, Elsa, Sally’s daughter, a women of strong character and kindness and many, many others.  Nor are the only strong characters in the book females – John Gordon, Ludwig and Paul Rausch and Sam Travers are just a few of the males you make friends with.  This is a book that transports you back to the 1860’s, then walks you forward decade by decade until it ends.

The story of the author is also fascinating.  Helen Hooven Santmyer apparently worked on this book for over 50 years.  It was first published in hardback in 1982 and didn’t make much of a splash.  The the mother of a high-ranking editor in a publishing company picked up the book at her local library, absolutely loved it and then insisted that her son read it and urged him to release it as a mass market paperback.  It was a best-seller in 1984 in that format.  Ms. Santmeyer passed away at the age of 90 on February 21, 1986, having seen her book on the best seller list of the New York Times for 37 consecutive weeks in 1984, including several weeks at number one.

Reading this book, which is over 1000 pages long, may seem like a commitment when you first pick it up, but by the time you are through the  few pages, the length of the book becomes immaterial.

Take the time to find this book – even though it is out of print, there are plenty of decently priced paperback and even hardback copies to be found.  Amazon is a good place to look for them, and I’m sure some other sites, like Barnes & Noble, would be good too.  Then take the time to read it.  You’ll be glad you did!

Have a great weekend!

Nancy

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Bibliophilic Friday: R. F. Delderfield’s To Serve Them All My Days


Good morning Everyone!

R.F. Delderfield To Serve Them All My Days

It’s 1918, and on the Western Front in Europe, millions of men are engaged in life and death struggles in the most brutal of conditions for only inches of territory.  But in the uplands of England, an elderly station master gently awakens a solitary soldier as his train pulls into the station.

With that, you have the beginning of R. F. Delderfield’s To Serve Them All My Days, an intimate fictional portrait of the inter-war career of one David Powlett-Jones, a Welsh miner’s son who obtains a position teaching history at a private school in England named “Bamfylde” after he was wounded on the front during World War I.

This book is one of my all-time favorites, a book that I have literally “read to pieces.”  The first version I owned was a paperback, which these days is growing harder and harder to hold together because I have read it so much.  I bought it in Kindle format a couple of years ago, which I suspect has greatly increased the paperback version’s longevity.

The fascination in the book lies in many different aspects.  First, there is David Powlett-Jones himself,  intense, likable, intelligent and dedicated, his growing family  and the growth he experiences throughout the book through cycles of tragedy and healing.  Second, there are the boys at the school and their relationship with David Powlett-Jones.  Who can’t love a book with characters such as Winterbourne, the millionaire’s son who paints water colors and has his own private campground on the moor to escape to when things get to be too much or Chad Boyer, who introduces himself to David in their  first class together with a fake epileptic fit.  Third, the other teachers in the school are characters in their own rights, including the headmaster, Algy Herries, who has built the life up on the moor into a vibrant world of its own, irascible Howarth, amiable and erudite Barnaby and a French master with the carefully hidden first name of “Aloysius” to name just a few.  Finally, there is the story itself, an intimate history of a man that also provides a panoramic view of the times he lived in.

One of the thrills of reading is the way it can carry you into other times, places and minds.  To Serve Them All My Days does so effortlessly, providing you with an entertaining, satisfying story that leaves you, at the end, with new friends that live in on in your imagination long after the pages are closed.

Try it sometime!  You’ll like it.

Have a great weekend!

Nancy

P.S.  If you do read the book, I’d love to hear from you to learn what you thought about it!