I first read this in 2000, when I was thinking of returning to my native Ohio after living away from it many years. Since my premiere dive into Santmyer's town of "Tecumseh," I've read cover to cover at least nine times. I've now befriended this book so thoroughly that, on any given day, if I'm restless and in dire need of comfort, I can grab it, open it, and begin reading exactly where I opened it without being lost as to what came before. I know this book better than any other that's passed in front of my eyes.
There is much more to this book than its pink and girly cover, and vague description suggests. It has a wonderful, subtle feminism lodged in the women who share their college lives (at a nameless Eastern college that is really none other than Wellesley), their budding careers in New York City at the time the world faces its first multi-national conflict. After many rereads, I was able to form essays about the mysterious characterization of Madeleine, particularly the dyad of Madeleine and Derrick Thornton (the story's protagonist). Madeleine is the question mark of the entire book, whom, I fear, was regrettably at the end of many Santmyer edits (at the insistence of her publisher), so that we are left with many ellipses surrounding Madeleine's reasons, her long and complicated friendship with Derrick that may (if it hadn't been for those edits) crossed the threshold into an intense feminine affection (more on Madeleine's side than Derrick's, although, given the hints, everyone in their group is aware of it). The characters are plentiful, entertaining, and just like the people you would've known, had you grown up in that era.
Derrick is not defined by the situations that develop around her as she grows up, reaches adulthood; rather, she is drawn into a character created by herself, by her own will, through her loyalty to her friends and her love for her hometown of Tecumseh (Xenia), Ohio.
If you have an interest in feminist books that are probably not on your Women's Studies list, pick this up at a second hand store or online. It's an interesting study of a woman who seeks a career in the 1910's, finds that marriage is not an option for her, and yet contents herself on being "a sitter in the world," quite the opposite of her youthful intentions.