Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Celestial Bed

Title: The Celestial Bed
Author: Irving Wallace
Date Finished: August 13, 2008
Pages: 304

The story behind me picking up this book is actually quite funny. My Dad and I often recommend authors to one another and Irving Wallace came very highly recommended. So, last week I went to the library and there were two books there by Mr. Wallace, one was quite large and the other fairly short. I decided to pick the smaller one, just in case I was not a big fan, not really knowing what it was about. After getting about half way through, I called my Dad to see if he had actually ever read this particular book. When I informed him of what it was about, he seemed a little embarrassed and mentioned that this was not one he had read. Although it was quite different from anything I have read before, I did enjoy it.

The story is about a psychologist, Dr. Arnold Freeberg and his unique style of treatments. After realizing that for some people, talk-therapy was just not going to help cure his sexually dysfunctional patients, he modeled his clinic after another couple who had been quite successful with the use of sexual surrogates. After being run out of Arizona, Dr. Freeberg packed up and moved his family and practice to California, but only after being assured by his old college roommate and lawyer that this type of therapy was more openly accepted. The one and only sex surrogate that Dr. Freeberg had used in Arizona, Gayle, was just finishing up college and promised to join his new practice after graduation. While waiting for Gayle to join his team, Dr. Freeberg hired 4 other females and one male surrogate, who endured a vigorous 6 weeks of training and teaching before being allowed to interact with a patient.

The description in this book was often times quite graphic, and took me a little while to get used to. I found the story line quite suspenseful and was anxious up to the end to see how the characters would handle moral situations. The receptionist in the Freeberg clinic recommends her boyfriend, Chet, to seek the help of a surrogate from the clinic, not realizing that he is an aspiring newspaper writer who is looking for that big break into the newspaper business. After hearing what it is the surrogates do, Chet contacts a religious fanatic that he has done some research for in the past, and pitches the story to him. The religious fanatic has some ties in with the DA and after some encouragement, everyone is on board to make an example of Dr. Freeberg and his main surrogate by charging them with pandering and prostitution and sentencing them both to prison time.

As Chet's therapy progresses with Gayle, a behind the scenes romance beings between Gayle and Paul, the only male surrogate. This was one storyline I was not a fan of. After two casual meetings at a restaurant the characters are proclaiming their love for each other, and each time they meet to consummate their relationship one of them freaks out and feels like the techniques they use on their patients are being used on them and always end up storming out. To me it came across as a very badly played out soap opera.

It was interesting to watch the patients that sought out help from Dr. Freeberg and his surrogates progress and eventually overcome their troubles. Although this is not something I had heard of before, it was very educational. I would not consider this one of my favorite books, but I think I will read something else by Irving Wallace.

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