Baby Doctor by Thomas Stone. Phoenix Press (1943), 250 pp.
Handome young San Francisco obstetrician Clint Randolph is spending too much time with his patients, many of whom miss their husbands and want some company. His wife, Marcia, has been tolerant of his occasional dates with “war widows.” But when he forgets their anniversary and goes off to spend the evening with hot redhead Pat Welles, she wonders if her marriage, which was never much of a love match to begin with, is headed for the rocks. In particular, she speculates whether she would have been better off with former boyfriend Parker Browne, who is back in town briefly before joining the army. The Randolphs’ domestic problems are looking grim. Can this marriage be saved?
Of course, we know the answer to the question. The issue, then, is what Stonebraker does to keep readers engaged. Ordinarily, she centers her attention on the romantic problems of a young single woman. Here, however, she splits the focus between husband and wife, neither of whom is a model of fidelity. She also relies less than usual on the conversations of her protagonists and more on their thoughts. And she never lets readers forget that there’s a war on. (A couple drunken sailors show up on p. 86.) Yet the story drags, perhaps because none of the characters generates much sympathy, perhaps because the sexual hijinks serve only as diversions from the inevitable outcome. Stonebraker might been better off addressing another question: Should this marriage be saved?