My foray into paperback originals continued with Private Practice. It's No. 35 in the series of "Intimate Novels." Hundreds of books like this one, dealing primarily with sex, were published in the 1950s. They had provocative cover art and titles like Warped Women and Backstage Sin. I wasn't sure what to expect of the content. Would it be dull? Silly? Incoherent? Pornographic? This book, at least, turned out to be none of those things. There's not much demand for this book these days but not much supply either. According to WorldCat, no library on earth has a copy. The author published dozens of novels in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly under her real name, Florence Stonebraker.
Private Practice by Thomas Stone. Designs (1953), 124 pp.
Dr. David Ibbet, an endocrinologist, centers his practice on giving hormone shots to the women of Hollywood's upper crust. They look younger, feel more energetic, and often become attracted to their helpful doctor. David has also done wonders for his teenage stepdaughter, Jean, who has turned into a blonde babe with a yen for her stepdad. David's wife, Anne, who runs a successful beauty parlor, tolerates his flings with patients -- she has lovers of her own -- but draws the line at Jean. When Anne finds the two in bed, sparks begin to fly.
The novel has a couple of short erotic interludes, but it's at its most engaging when it takes on David and Anne's marriage. They're a perfect match. He can't resist sexual temptation, hang on to his money, or avoid unconvincing rationalizations. She can't suppress her contempt for him nor her compulsion to bail him out of recurrent difficulties. She hates her daughter, while his feelings about the girl wobble back and forth. Their home is not a happy one. The author is surprsingly restrained in exploiting the melodramatic potential of the situation. The prose is calm and clear. Telling the story mostly from the viewpoint of the indecisive David adds tentativeness to the descriptions. The tale seems to drag a bit in the middle, and Jean probably deserves a little more sympathy than the author gives her. But, all in all, readers expecting trash are going to be disappointed.