• U.S.

Books: Prize Housewife

2 minute read

Three years ago Mrs. John Gasparotti, wife of the chief engineer of the City Ice & Fuel Co. of Moberly, Mo. (pop. 13,772) got an idea for a novel. Mornings, after her four children were off to school, she hustled through the housework by 9:30, wrote until a lunch deadline at 11:30. Afternoons she could sometimes squeeze in a couple of hours more. The book soaked up distractions the way butter soaks up the flavor of fish in the icebox. Odd-moment writing gave her prose an odd-moment style.

But in three years, two rewritings—a period as hectic as one long house cleaning—Mrs. Gasparotti got it to come out right and sent it off under her maiden name, Elizabeth Seifert, to the Dodd, Mead-Redbook Magazine $10,000 novel contest. The day the news came she had won, she and the children “just sat down and looked at each other.” That night her husband “didn’t sleep a wink and I didn’t get much rest myself.”

Last week, with publication of Mrs. Gasparotti’s prizewinner, Young Doctor Galahad (Dodd, Mead, $2.50), readers could admire not only her industry, but a good piece of popular fiction as well. The story of an idealistic young doctor in a small-town hospital—not Moberly, protests Author Seifert, although “I cannot get people to believe it”—Young Doctor Galahad is better than the usual run of popular fiction because of the author’s earnestness.

She knows hospitals and doctors— before her marriage she worked in St. Louis hospitals—and she has definite ideas about the social role of the medical profession. Her hero’s two love affairs are not very convincing and Author Seifert does not count too much on them herself. But when he is fighting small-town bigotry to introduce syphilis clinics, to put a murderous abortionist out of business, and, in a novel happy ending, to put across an experiment in socialized medicine, the story moves with a commendable and lively amateur freshness.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com