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The Passionate Witch

Thorne Smith

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Mr. T. Wallace Wooly, a self-important tycoon, but at heart a shy brown rabbit of a man, meets his future bride when he rescues her from a hotel fire. Readers might think this situation poses unique challenges to a couple just getting acquainted, but it probably helped that the soon to be Mrs. Wooly was completely naked at the time. Mr. Wooly is the most public, most consequential man in town and so respectable that the well-publicized rescue of the nude Miss Broome thrown over Mr.Wooly's shoulder as he rushes from the burning building sets tongues wagging. (You sly dog.)

Mr. Wooly is aghast at the rumors, but Miss Broome is after all, bewitching, and Mr. Wooly is soon under the spell of her red lips, lustrous black hair, and slanting yellow eyes. It isn't long after their marriage that Mr. Wooly begins to question the wisdom of their hasty union when he sees his new wife climbing down the trumpet vine outside their bedroom window, riding the goat through the apple orchard in the moonlight, and killing chickens. Among other things.

The Passionate Witch (1941) was initially drafted as a film scenario, but later completed as a novel by Norman Matson after Thorne Smith's death in 1934. Unlike Smith's hugely popular Topper novels, the post-humous collaborative effort failed to satisfy the public (and the critics). Still, much of Thorne Smith's magic and singular wit shines through and, all in all, the book doesn't disappoint. The storyline was heavily reworked for the sunnier, more successful movie adaptation, I Married a Witch (Masterpiece/United Artists/Cinema Guild, 1942).

The Passionate Witch - cover

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