Frigid Wife (Beacon, 1961)

Hitt - Frigid Wife

I’m conviced that Orrie Hitt either had a fetish or an issue with much older men marrying young women just out of their teens.  In Frigid Wife, there are two such women, both 20ish, who have married one man who is 55 and one who is early 60s.

Now, it’s not much of a social tawdriness for a girl in her 20s to marry someone 15-25 years her senior, but when we get into the Anna Nicole Smith realm of women marrying grandfather types, one wonders why — these old men in Hitt’s worlds are not millionaires (and not studs), just upper middle class business men, often with businessess that aren’t very glamorous — in this book, one old fart owned a milk delivery route and the 22-yr-old bombshell bust size 42 widow is left to run.  Not exactly mink coat territory.

There is the young lady who married the narrator’s 55-year-old father. One day he has sex with her, she tells the father, and he is kicked out of the house  and ostracized.  He now seels storm windows and doors, an occupation that Hitt once has (as does a character in Lucy).

The other woman, the young widow with the milk route, becomes the narrator’s lover, among others.  The narrator is married to a frigid wife; they sleep in separate rooms.  Why they stay married is unknown, they have no children. He gets his sexual relief where he can.

This is the first Hitt book I could not get past page 40.  I had a hard time finishing Male Lover but continued anyway.  This one I can put away.  There’s nothing wrong with the writing — in fact, the prose is pretty smooth and almost literary. It’s simply a boring narrative that covers many topics Hitt has written about elsewhere — first, the young girl who married the wealthy senior citizen, the loveless/sexless marriage, the womanizing, the salesman struggling…even with the same topics, Hitt often has a tenseness that keeps you reading.  Nothing is at stake here…the guy leads a boring life which makes a boring story.

This is, of course, to be expected of any prolific author — pet topics, obsessions, repeated themes in any books.  All prolific authors have their surprise gems and their turds.

Maybe I picked this one up too soon after Bad Wife, with similar sitiations..I’ll have to come back to it later and see. As for now, I can’t recommend it.

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