Wild Divorcee by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg), Nightstand Books #1542, 1961
An early Nightstand, their 41st published book, reprinted in 1973 as Nowhere Girl, is about 26-year-old divorcee Carol, who has moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles (a large home in Pacific Palasades) to start her life over, single and confused about the ways of sex — she was virgin when she was 22 and married her older ex-husband.
She’s aware of the image a newly divorced woman her age conjures up — sexually available, lonely, on the rebound. She does not want to be that; however, she finds herself jumping into all kinds of sexual sitautions the day she moves into her new place…
There’s the painter across the hall, who gets get drunk; he’s short and dark and odd looking but she lets it happen and then feels bad the next day. She later models nude for him and they become casual lovers. He is the second man she has ever been with, and finds him an excellent lover. “I never knew it could be that way,” etc.
She picks up a 19-year-old sailor in the city who first mistakens her for a hooker. She’s lonely and curious…
She wanders to North Beach to check out the beatnik scene. She goes to a club above a small bookstore. This scene is almost word-for-word a similar scene in a Loren Beauchamp novel, The Fires Within — Silverberg has admitted he re-processed scenes from one book to another in his “My Life as a Pornographer” essay. In both scenes, the wandering lost women get drunk, get picked up by several bearded beatniks and a silent girl, go to a pad, pound on bongos, drink wine, dance, and have an orgy.
Then there is a chamber music composer who lives downstairs — six feet five tall, thin, curious, when he plays his music for her, he wants her to whip him with a riding crop, scatch him, beat him, abuse him…and to her surprise, she does. She does not feel dirty about it, but is curious why a man would want this.
She gets drunk and meets a lesbian and goes to bed with the woman, and again feels guilty after her twilight experience (a similar scene from several Beauchamp and Elliott books).
So Carol runs the gambit of sexual experiences in the free-lovin’ San Francisco, while her ex-husband feels remorse and wants her back. he comes to see her, drunk, and asks her to marry him again, and then tries to rape her, but the painter saves her.
She starts to drink more and more, confused with her life; angry with men, she plays with the composer, orders him around, treats him like shit, getting her revenge on the male sex, but the guy likes it…
I’ve never been disappointed with a Silverberg sleaze novel, whatever pen name he uses; he was/is a craftsman and tells entertaining stories. As noted elsewhere in this blog, most are above average, some average, and some are gems of literature. This one is average, but worth reading.