Camp Doctor by Thomas Stone. Phoenix Books (1943), 253 pp.
Captain Jimmy Byram isn’t merely a hard working surgeon at the army hospital in Palm Springs. He’s also the Dr. McDreamy of the smitten nursing staff. With the war on and all, Byram tries to stay focused on the work. He did have one weekend with nurse Edith Parson, however, an episode that impressed her more than he expected. He has reluctantly agreed to meet her at a local hotel when he’s confronted on the street by Ann Parkford, Edith’s roommate. Ann has a proposition. Despite her aloof allure, she’s had no sexual experience. She’s thinking of marrying an old, rich former employer and wants to make sure that uninspired sex won’t ruin the relationship. Could she have a trial run with Jimmy? He refuses, then quickly realizes that resistance would lead to a missed opportunity.
It’s probably fair to say that Florence Stonebraker’s novels have greater importance as historical documents than as literary achievements. Camp Doctor, part of her chronicle of sex on the homefront during World War II, illustrates the point. The war is always somewhere in the background. Nurses worry about uniforms and curfews. Edith, who would merely have been a slut in earlier novels, here suffers from PTSD. Everyone is away from home and at loose ends to some degree. Stonebraker further grounds the story in real life by setting it at a thinly disguised version of a well known hospital. The verisimilitude diverts attention from Ann’s unlikely misadventures (despite the title, she’s the novel’s actual protagonist) and other implausible plot twists. The book, of course, is an easy read and may rely less on unnecessary dialogue than Stonebraker’s other novels. And for some reason copies are available on demand.