Herbs and Apples

Helen Hooven Santmyer, Author HarperCollins Publishers $16.95 (330p) ISBN 978-0-06-015486-8
Before Santmyer began her monumental "". . . And Ladies of the Club,'' she had produced this semi-autobiographical novel, which was published in 1925 while she was studying at Oxford. Now reissued, unrevised, it seems very old-fashioned indeed. In Derrick Thornton, her alter ego, Santmeyer creates a sometimes insufferably high- and singleminded young woman, who determines early on that she will be a great writer. Derrick's childhood and her friendships in the fictional town of Tecumseh, Ohio; her coterie of friends when she goes East to college; her few years as a career woman in New York; the death of her fiance in WW I; and her decision, when her mother is dying, to renounce her ambitions and return home to take care of her younger siblings, are the main events in a narrative that generally fails to elicit the reader's emotional involvement. In her leisurely, lyrical descriptions of small town life and the Ohio countryside, the author has a sure touch that charms. But most of the book is overwritten and stilted, almost turgid in its earnestness and philosophical musings, and the dialogue lacks vivacity and credibility. This novel is a curiosity, but not an engaging read. 50,000 first printing; 50,000 ad/promo. October 30
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-90601-6
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