Older Woman by Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block or Donald Westlake), Beacon Books, 1962
Not sure who was the name behind this Sheldon Lord — some parts read like early Lawrence Block, some parts read like Westlake…it could be one of those books where they collaborated.
Older Woman is about the May/December thing, a coming-of-age novel for a young man with no experience and the married older woman in need of love, or sex….or attention.
The young man is Andy McNeil (Andrew Shaw?), who attends a small college the mid-west that is not unlike Antioch College in Ohio (where Block went to school, later to drop out and pursue the life of a writer in New York at age 19).
This was written/published around the same time as April North, but does not include the little in-jokes and clues found in April North and many of the Andrew Shaw books for Nightstand.
It’s a brisk and fun read, as are many Block and Westlake novels. Andy is awkward among gils. There is one he likes, but when he findsout she’s an easy tramp, he is hurt, especially when his dorm mate sleeps with her at a party.
Natalie Foster is 39 and married to a 50 year old professor she chased after when she was an undergraduate. She chased him hard back when she was 19, and she got him; the 20 years of marriage have gone from good to bad. He’s too wrapped up in his research of 18th Century poetry and a monograph and his high brow career to pay attention to her needs…
She and Andy both get cast in a play at the off-campus theater. She rents a motel room nearby, her excuse is to not disturb her husband when she comes in late, but her real motive is to have somewhere to take lovers — she has her sites on Andy, a good-looking freshman who seems virile.
Andy is terrified — he is attracted to Natalie, he’d like to have sex with her, but he’s a vrigin and doesn’t know what to do. He goes into Springfield to a brothel to learn, but he’s so nervous he cannot get an erection.
Eventually he tells Natalie this. She is touched, and says she will teach him all he needs to know. For the next two months, during rehearsal and the run of the play, they go to the motel each night where he stays and learns to become an excellent cocksman of the campus.
I have had older women in my life, from age 16 to 29, so I identified with this story in certain ways, mainly knowing why it is, psychologically, some women will seek younger males when they know there is no future in it…and especially married woman, where danger lurks.
Her husband never finds out but he does realize he’s been a lousy husband, so he shows up on closing night with roses, and whisks his wife away, much to Andy’s chagrin.
Andy does have confidece in himself to take what he has learned and apply this knowledge to the girls on campus, so we know he will be just fine in the end. Natalie was a necessary component in the sexual education of a young lad — she reminds him their affair was mutually beneficial: she needed sex and he needed to learn about sex.
Not the best of the Sheldon Lord novels, but not the worst either.