“…And Ladies of the Club”

A lady dressed for 1868 club meeting on cover of “...And Ladies of the Club”
font and image recall 1860s

“…And Ladies of the Club” opens in 1868 as Congressman General Deming tells Waynesboro Female College graduates, “The hand that rocks the cradle is mightier than the hand that wields the sabre.”

The novel focused primarily on two graduates, Anne Gordon and Sally Rausch, reveals the truth underlying that cliché.

Both graduates are invited to become founding members of a local women’s literary club.

Sally accepts because she thinks the club might become influential in Waynesboro.

Anne accepts because Sally did: She can back out later.

Sally marries a German immigrant, Ludwig Rausch, a man with a passion for machinery and endowed with a business shrewdness equal to any Yankee’s.

Anne marries her childhood sweetheart, a doctor scarred by his experiences as a military surgeon and his family history.

Helen Hooven Santmyer traces the interwoven lives of the two women, their families, their small town, and America up until 1932.

Politics, wars, economic booms and depressions, social and technological changes are revealed the way people felt them.

“…And Ladies of the Club” is a marvelous work of historical fiction with an historical sweep and psychological intimacy equaling Anthony Trollope’s Palliser novels, John Galsworthy’s Forsythe novels, and Paul Scott’s The Jewel in the Crown.

“…And Ladies of the Club”
by Helen Hooven Santmyer
Putnam’s. ©1982. 1176 p
1986 bestseller #6. My grade: A+

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

Biological clock ticks, alarms in Soundings

From age 8 until Curley kisses her, Nancy Hawthorne’s artist father is her teacher, mentor, and companion.

Though Nancy doesn’t want Curley, she knows she wants passionate love.


Soundings: A Novel by A. Hamilton Gibbs

Little, Brown, 1925. 320 pages. 1925 bestseller #1. My grade: B.


To divert her, Jim suggests art study on the Continent.

In Paris, Nancy shares a flat with an American. Cordelia introduces Nancy to her brother, Lloyd, and Lloyd’s best friend at Oxford, Bob Whittaker.

Foot of week-old baby

Nancy likes Lloyd but falls hard for Bob. He appears to reciprocate.

When her father is injured in an accident, Nancy rushes back home to Brimble.

Bob doesn’t write.

When Nancy goes to Oxford to find out what’s changed, she finds Bob with another woman.

Nancy devotes herself to painting and to her father, now a paraplegic.

On her 27th birthday, in the midst of World War I, Nancy realizes she wants children. Lloyd’s death in France ends possibility of him as a husband.

Then a changed Bob is temporarily stationed in Brimble.

A. Hamilton Gibbs writes passages of absolutely beautiful prose but leaves gaping holes in character development.

Although the other characters are shown in varied situations, Gibbs rarely shows Bob when he’s not pursuing Nancy. Thus the ending of Soundings leaves a vague sense of distrust that Bob has fundamentally changed.

© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni

 Photo credit: Babyfoot by johnnyberg @ FreeImages.com

Lamb in His Bosom Is Warm in Hard Times

lambCaroline Miller’s Lamb in His Bosom is a tale of women in the Georgia-Florida woods country in the 1800s when time was measured in tombstones.  These women endured incredible hardship to raise families.

Cean Carver is a pretty 16-year-old when she marries Lonzo Smith and moves to the farm he’s clearing for the family they are to raise.

While Lonzo goes to plant, Cean cares for the cabin, garden and animals before gladly joining him under the baking sun. They are poor, but Cean feels herself rich.

Children are born.

Before the first son, a series of girls, worthless as farm laborers, are born. Cean ages by years with every birth.

When Lonzo dies, Cean is left with 14 children to raise.

She marries a preacher newly come to the settlement. Cean hasn’t gotten used to her new name when her husband goes off to minister to soldiers in blue and gray. When he limps home after Appomattox, they are both white-haired and old.

Miller’s novel leaves a lasting impression of wiry women made indomitable by faith. In ordinary times, their faith is as unconsidered as breathing. In trouble, they “throw . . . back into God’s eternal face” His promise to never forsake them.

They are lambs in His bosom.

Lamb in His Bosom
By Caroline Miller
Grosset & Dunlap, 1933
345 pages
1932 bestseller #2
My grade B+

Photo credit: Lamb by magdaro

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni