Community of Women – Sheldon Lord aka Lawrence Block (Beacon, 1963)
Was this one a “major bestseller” Beacon claims on the cover of the 1964 second edition, third printing? Who knows what is truth or hyperbole. Community of Women is Block fo’shure (BFS) and he has recently made it available as an ebook reprint.
The terse novel, told in 22 short chapters, is one of Block’s multi-character soap operas, like the many Andrew Shaws that take that form, a form Block still employs now and then, most recently with his 9/11 mainstream novel, Small Town. (I tend to prefer Block keeping to one POV, usually first-person.) The caharcters here are residents of suburba, Cheshire Point, a commuter train’s ride outside Manhattan where many of the men work and their wives stay at home and have their own secret lives, such as Maggie, a secret lesbian married to a gay man for appearaces, who sets her seductive third sex sites of Elly Carr, a woman who sleeps with any man who comes around when her hubby is away — she has been a nympho since her days at Clifton College (a BFS giveaway). But when Maggie does get Elly into bed, Maggie convinces her the nymphomania has been misdirected, that no man has ever been able to satisfy her because she needs a woman’s lusty tongue and touch.
One fun character is Linc, a hack novelist having writer’s block; a new novel is overdue and he cannot seem to get any words on paper so he drinks to a stupor. He and his wife, Roz, moved to Cheshire Point when he sold a novel to Warner Books for $35K…now, with books ovedue, no sales of stories, no advances, he and Roz are nearly in the poor house among the upper middleclass suburbanites. Not to fear, he gets his writer’s wings back, making love to Roz in between writing marathon hours.
One thing surprising here, for these books at that time, is the lesbian awkening is a positive thing; Elly does not discover despair in dykedom but seeks a happy new life in the arms of Maggie.
Another fun read!