The Celestial Bed

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Celestial Bed by Irving Wallace.

Irving Wallace The Celestial Bed

The Celestial Bed is a “contemporary issues” novel from the mid-1980s. The dramatic vector of the book is shifting and ambivalent. It often seems as if it is going to be a sex-therapeutic riff on Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, but there are also threads that appear to be weaving a grave tragedy in which clinic founder Dr. Freeberg will serve as a Christlike sacrifice. In the end, all of the evils are overcome, the story turns out to be As You Like It with sex surrogacy in place of cross-dressing, and Dr. Freeberg is merely Duke Senior.

The book is very plot-driven, with characterizations that are strong but not particularly deep. The prose is clear and rather journalistic, and the book reads quite quickly. There is a strong moral tone in support of the therapeutic use of sex surrogacy, along with lots of explicit sex that avoids being gratuitous by virtue of the central topic of the novel. It’s certainly no literary work of art, but it does afford some entertainment and a view of the “bestseller” genre of its time. [via]