Newlywed Problems in the Bedroom

pulp novel cover "grounds for divorce"

Grounds for Divorce
1948 (original publication 1937)

Love and intrigue are what this book is all about. For me, it was the phrase at the top:  “He was weak and she was wanton.”  Who can say no to that tagline?  In short, society gal Lolita marries upstanding man Bailey. The sexual chemistry is just not happening for our newlyweds.  They quickly go off the rails by indulging in booze and a bit of adultery. By the end they come together, hopeful for a future. A real feel good romance. <sarcasm>

Jack Woodford was a novelist with quite a few pulp fiction credits such as: The Abortive Hussy, Hard-boiled Virgin, and Free Lovers.

back cover of grounds for divorce

character description for Grounds for Divorce book

grounds for divorce text


    1. That’s what I want to know! I think we’re supposed to assume her mother never told her what sex was. Or something.

    2. Now I have to know. I’ve requested a copy of the book through interlibrary loan. I’ll update here once I’ve discovered what Lolita’s problem is.

      1. Well, I got the book through Interlibrary Loan. It would appear that Lolita’s horrible secret is (drumroll, please!) that (1) it simply didn’t occur to her that Bailey would want to have sex with her, and (2) he looks dumpy in a bathrobe. For your enjoyment, I present to you excerpts from pages 1-3 of the novel:

        (page 1)


        In the next room, with a door shut between them, was Bailey. She had already seen him. He had come to the door. He had stood there smiling complacently. Agreeably…. And he was in his dressing gown.

        …And he was horrible…. And she was married to him. Had been married to him that afternoon, at four-thirty. Tea time.

        “Horrible?” she cogitated. “Bailey?” She regarded the reflection again. “Why? Why?, Why, in Heaven’s name, now that it was too late, this revulsion against him? Dear, kind, lovable Bailey?”

        “Horrible!” She examined herself innerly to see where this devastating notion about him had come from, inside her.

        His dressing gown was perfectly all right. It was a nice enough, black, mannish dressing gown. But though he was not fat, he appeared, in a dressing gown, rather too solid around the hips. Unappetizing. Yes, that was it, the dressing gown. He was not a man for dressing gowns. He was a man for offices…. For giving orders. For appearing immaculate as an executive, at cocktail hour, at a hotel cocktail bar; in gray, in perfect gray, superbly fitting his solid body.

        (Page 2)

        A man to be proud of. So much more substance to him than the rest of the cocktail crew.

        Not until now had it occurred to her that marriage was a personal matter… Most personal-! Flattening in its personal aspects.

        Not once, she realized, had she ever thought of this side of marriage in connection with Bailey.

        Somehow all through their acquaintance, courtship, and engagement, he had been so Bailey… and, by “so Bailey,” she meant something which she could comprehend quite well inferentially, even if she couldn’t analyze it.

        Bailey was always controlled an poised… his voice ever so well modulated… his ideas sound. Invariably jolly, but adequate about taking her away from gatherings when they advanced to the chaotic point…. So like her father in many ways. So dearly like her father. But, after all, one never though of one’s father as a husband.

        But she must think of Bailey as a husband… and besides he was not old like a father. He was young. Only a few years older than she. He was spendid in every way. He put her in mind of her father only because he was as fine and steady and true; not because he was oldish.


        (Page 3)


        For a moment she hated him for desiring her. She had somehow managed to overlook the fact that Bailey would want her bodily; because he never pawed, or moved close to her, as the others did. She’d taken it as a matter of course that since everything else about their courtship and marriage was so right, that part of it would take care of itself.

  1. I now must find opportunities to work the phrase “that clamorous way” and the word “junglesque” into everyday speech.

  2. “This book specially revised and edited for The Novel Library”.

    Grounds for Divorce: the good-parts version

  3. “Cupid in a quandary.” Should I tip my arrow with a deadly poison, or not? It might be the humane thing to do.

  4. They’re Americans and the were allowed to go to Cuba? Were Americans allowed to back when this book was written, or did they have to put pictures of maple leaves all over their luggage and act super-polite?

    1. It was originally published in 1937. At the time Fidel Castro was only eleven years old and not much of a threat to anybody.

      1. Bet he and his bro drove his mother crrrraaazy, though, playing baseball in the house…

    2. Presumably the travel ban for Americans only came in after Castro came to power? Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown go to Havana in Guys and Dolls, so I guess it was a popular destination.

    3. In 1948 (or 1937) when the book was published, Cuba was a tropical getaway for Americans — people could live the high life away from home and let their hair down, rather like what Las Vegas has become. This continued through the 1950s. My parents one winter in the late ’50s had driven to Florida for a vacation but it was too cold there, so they phoned their insurance agent and told him they were taking the ferry to Cuba, and would he please put the appropriate insurance on the station wagon. I think there was starting to be some unrest, but Castro had not yet taken over (or they would not have been able to go there). I wonder what happened to the maracas they brought back as souvenirs.

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