The Third Theme – March Hastings aka Sally Singer (Newstand Library #U157, 1961)
March Hastings (real name Sally M. Singer) liked to write about women cracking up, breaking bad, and going hyp0-mania, usually from a divorce, break-up, or bad union, and finding their way into the arms of another woman. This was present in The Drifter and looks to be a common set-up in the other books I have by her.
She’s regarded as a major contributor to pulp lesbiana and a few of her titles — like Her Private Hell (Midwood) — fetch high prices with collectors.
Sharon Porter is a book editor in her 30s who is on the verge of a crack-up. She works for Taft Publishing and the man she lives with has the last name Taft, so there’s a problem there: fucking the boss. But that relationship has gone sour.
Needing to get out, she contacts one of her writers, Kermit, to take her out somewhere. They go to a party at another writer’s loft; he’s an eccentric fellow married to an even more eccentric lady, Leda. Leda and Sharon hit it off immediately — there’s attraction, which leads to sex, which eventually leads to Leda’s husband catching them in the act of “the third theme.”
They get out of dodge; the two women go on a road trip, back to Sharon’s home town, so Sharon was rediscover herself, and come to terms with her “third sex syndrome.”
This one is elegantly written but it is hard to identity with, or care about the characters because they are so uppercrust Manhattanites who end to be shallow, their problems petty when you consider, for instance, the characters in Sloane Britain’s The Needle, who are dealing with the underbelly of life. The Drifter was about upper middle class and privileged people, and while I liked that one, there was still the issue of Hastings not making her wealthy, educated people into universal human beings.
I wonder how much The Third Theme is like The Third Sex Syndrome…