Woman Doctor – Sloane Britain (Midwood, 1962)
Another gorgeous Paul Rader cover. Lynn Munroe has this to say in his Rader/Midwood Checklist:
This cover may not actually make sense (how many psychiatric patients remove their dresses for therapy?), but it is an eyeful nonetheless. The poor dear has twisted herself around so much that both her breasts and bottom are heaving out of her slip, and even the good doctor is flashing a bit of stocking top and thigh.
Marion Zimmer Bradley didn’t think highly of this title, feeling BNritain/Williams had succumbed to the demands of commercial lesbian fiction.
And the book does tend to lean toward a commercial, predictable format, not as personal and riveting as other Britain novels like The Needle and These Curious Pleasures.
Dr. Erika Hathaway is a psychiatrist who crosses the ethical boundaries of her profession in many ways, with patients and co-workers. She has her private practice and she is on staff at a hospital, working with committed patients who are, well, nuts or manic. One, Arlene, is a nymphomaniac who seduces both men and woman and whom Erika has the hots for.
She also has the hots for a nurse, Mavia, who has latent lesbian feelings as well…and feelings for Arlene. Erika gets jealous.
One man, Tom, a medical writer, is in an influencing position of power with a foundation that is about to give the psychiatric wing a large grant for research. He lets Erika know that if she sleeps with him, she will be on the team and benefit from the money and status of the research. He tries to rape her one night but she hits him with a beer bottle.
Erika also sees her own psychiatrist for her own issues, especially those crossing ethical lines.
Throughout the story, we peer into Erika’s head and the past, with her first lesbian love, whom she lived with. It ended with heartbreak and Erika has been seeking out a woman to experience those feelings again.
An okay read. Now and then, Britain delivers remarkable one-liners, such as: “The world does not die when the heart does” (p.89).
A B-minus all together.