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Background::"...And Ladies of the Club"

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Santmyer::title    Novel::first    Ladies::helen    Hooven::their    Category::putnam    Times::novels

Background

Writing

Santmyer wrote three novels, two published to little notice, the third unpublished, in the years 1922–30. She did not like Sinclair Lewis's negative portrayal of small town America in his Main Street, and conceived of Ladies as an antidote.<ref name=happyend>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> But working full-time, she wrote very little until her retirement in 1959.

A collection of her nostalgic reminiscences of Xenia was published as Ohio Town by Ohio State University Press in 1962. The director of the press, Weldon Kefauver, encouraged her to write more. In 1976 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. The Press published the novel, printed 1500 copies, and sold a few hundred, priced at $35, mostly to libraries. In 1983, Santmyer was forced for health reasons to move permanently into a nursing home.<ref name=happyend/>

Ladies was awarded the 1983 Ohioana Book Award in the category of fiction,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> but otherwise gained little attention at the time.

Success

One local library patron, in returning the book, told the librarian it was the greatest novel she had ever read. Another patron, Grace Sindell, overheard this, checked out the book, agreed with the assessment and called her son Gerald in Hollywood. The son was at first reluctant to look at the book, on the grounds that anything that good would already be taken. But unable to find a copy in California, Gerald Sindell ordered a copy direct 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, and convinced Putnam to republish the book. Before republication, the Book-of-the-Month club chose Ladies as their main selection, and suddenly Santmyer and her novel were a media sensation, including front page coverage in the New York Times.<ref name=happyend/><ref name=nytobit>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref><ref name=schott>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

The paperback edition, published by Berkley in 1985, sold more than 2 million copies between June and September, making it the best-selling paperback in history at the time.<ref name=apobit>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>


"...And Ladies of the Club" sections
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