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Natural Child by Calder Willingham.

Published by The Dial Press in 1952.

Designed by William R. Meinhardt. Jacket design by George Maas.



289 pages / 5.6 x 8.1 x .9 inches / 14.2 x 20.8 x 2.3 centimeters


Please see the images above for an accurate representation of what the book looks like, but...

Some discoloring to the dust jacket (a pretty big stain that's more noticeable on the inside of the dust jacket), as well as some small tears and rips. The actual book covers also have a bit of staining.

Stamp / a bit of writing on front endpapers.

Scuffing marks on title page.

The pages are all still together in a big clump, but they've become attached from almost all of the spine / book covers - you can still easily read the book BUT, yeah.


A narrative tour de force, Natural Child is imbued with love of life and a fresh point of view, in which the hangover of self-pity and cynicism of the "lost generation" is rejected. Seldom, if ever, has the disenchanted, sophisticated "intellectual" taken such a trouncing as he does at the hands of this novel's heroine, Bobbie, a natural child from the south with a rare emotional honesty, but with more than a full measure of the wiles, complexities, moods and non-rational depths that make up the immemorial temperament of woman. In her character lies the meaning of a story of an implication no less profound for its simplicity.

It is against the setting of a 58th Street rooming house that the drama of Bobbie's troubles is played. The narrator, whose exact identity is a question, tells the story of her meeting with George, who likes "nice, sweet little girls," but mistakes genuineness for naivete, gentleness for weakness, and love for possessiveness... what happens then is the story of this book, a story of many surprises and a puzzle to challenge the reader's imagination and insight.

Into the story the author weaves a sample of the upper class Bohemia of Manhattan's 57th Street, as he places Bobbie and George, and their friends, Sue and Phil in contrast to Jan Mariss, an attenuated male dancer with a penchant for "artistic" photographs of young men; Dr. Groats, an unsavory medic who deals in human misery "for a mere Cadillac"; and Betty and Heidi, young dancers who have acquired the veneer of the city. Against this backdrop and against the glittering paste jewels of 42nd Street and Coney Island, they appear as the natural children they are.

Natural Child is a story concocted of typical Willingham irony, humor, brilliance, and vitriol, and something more. It is as "intensely readable" as his earlier books, the same pace and vitality are there; but concealed in this novel, which contains as topsy-turvy a narrative as can be found in modern American fiction, is a warm-hearted love story, a new departure for an author known for the frustrations of Geraldine Bradshaw and the terrifying blood-curdling violence of End as a Man.

Natural Child by Calder Willingham


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  • Vintage item from the 1950s
  • Material: book
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 418 reviews
  • Favorited by: 10 people