I have a backlog of books involving witches. I try to read books that share similar themes to whatever I am writing and when Fight in the Sex Arena went from taking six months to writing to thirteen, I ended up reading a lot of science fiction. Now I am am reading books that I barely remember buying, much less why I bought them.
The Passionate Witch by Thorne Smith is one of those books. It certainly looks salacious. I probably bought it thinking it was porn. Little did I know that it was written in 1942 by the guy best known for the Cary Grant Topper movies. Sadly, Thorne didn’t finish the book and someone else did. Like most posthumously finished books, it shows.
The story is about a putz, Mr. Wooly. He is a successful insurance and real estate mogul, a pillar of the community and an extremely dull man. Because this is the 40’s, that means he is a vegetarian, takes lots of vitamins, doesn’t drink and is completely obvious to how badly his secretary wants to marry him. His servants think he is a wimp and kind of despise him and quite frankly, I did too.
Through ridiculous circumstances, he rescues a naked woman from a burning hotel. The hotel is of a dubious reputation so when people see him coming out with a naked woman over his shoulder, every one snickers and thinks Mr. Wooly is a lot more interesting than he is.
Long story short, he ends up marrying the witch, regretting it and trying to get rid of her. The witch herself is the most interesting part of the book as she sleeps outside in the branches of a tree and curses the secretary to only be able to type backwards.
But Shon, I see it is described as “Ribald” on the cover. Is this a dirty book?
Uh, Maybe? The sex scenes happen during the asterisks in the story, which was a clever moment. There is a description of pomegranates that was a bit sexy once you understand it was talking about her breasts. A lot of people are sleeping around on their spouses. Almost every man is in a state of “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” over Mr. Wooly’s ordeal with no sympathy for him being married to a hot witch. It is certainly a comedy about adult relationships, but less explicit than an episode of Riverdale.
I do want to note that halfway through the book, the witch dies. I was pretty stunned. The last thing she did before dying was curse Wooly with the ability to hear thoughts. He finds the only way to stop the voices is by drinking. This means the last half of the book is about his drunken exploits and the hilarity that ensues until he realizes his witch’s spirit is inside his first wife’s old horse.
So, yeah. It is not what I expected, but it is a cute book if you enjoy 40’s style drinking comedy. It is also illustrated, which is a nice surprise. This book has been reprinted many times and there is in fact an ebook version on Amazon. I guess passionate witches are timeless.