Let’s Play House – Joan Ellis (Midwood, 1967)

Vicky Taylor has just turned 18, is a senior in high school, and wants the hell out of her impoverished life, living with her “loose” mother and five siblings, another on the way, all fathered by different “uncles” who have come and gone over the years.  One “uncle” threw her on the bed at 13 and took her virginity by force, so now she does not trust men. In fact, she knows she can use her body and allure to get men to do her bidding.

So she has her gunsites aimed at Mr. Woodward, the middle-aged widower lawyer she babysits for.  She has noticed how he looks at her. One night she lets him knows she is available, for a price: for $200 she will sleep with him.  He takes her up on it, and also gives her his dead wife’s mink coat.

She uses the $200 to buy a bus ticket to New York City, to start a new life.  This is where the “let’s play house” Lolita aspect of the short novel ends — Vicky arrives in New York fresh and naive and gets involved with a group of 20-somethings into nude modeling and general hustling to survive.

The book is short — 118 pages, 30,000 words or so.  I have noticed Midwood put out a lot of very short books in 1966-7, manuscripts that were most likely originally purchased for double or triple books.

Let’s Play House is okay, the usual young sexual girl story that Ellis wrote quite a bit of.

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