In the 1940s if someone saw a picture of a naked woman, the joke would be that she was “wearing nothing But A Smile“. Of course, in those days pictures of naked women were not easy to find. That was long before the internet; and even Playboy magazine was decades away.
This was during World War II, and the armed forces were very strict about what their “boys” were allowed to see. There were “pin-ups” of women like Betty Grable in every Army barracks. Then there were the hidden “girly magazines” which were secretly passed around and sold.
Nothing But A Smile by Steve Amick is a novel about where those girly magazines came from. The hero of the story is Wink Dutton, an Army Illustrator who is wounded in his right hand and can no longer draw. He is shipped home and is despondent that he can no longer make a living.
He winds up teaming up with the wife of one of his Army buddies who owns a photography shop. She has been keeping secret from her husband the fact that the shop is losing money and may go out of business. She (Sally) and Wink decide to make money publishing their own erotic magazine, with Wink as the photographer and Sally as the model.
Nothing But A Smile is a well written and fun to read novel. Steve Amick has kept it historically accurate with the views of nudity and sex. Pictures that were considered naughty or even illegal in 1942 would be mild by today’s standards.
The characters are interesting and the plot is great. Wink and Sally begin their adventure to make a few bucks without actually realizing what they are getting into. There are questions they forgot to ask when they started. Isn’t it wrong to take nude pictures of your friend’s wife while he is away fighting a war? Can you really stay emotionally detached from the model you are taking naked pictures of?
They also forgot that the girly magazine business already existed and has some rules they are ignoring. There are very rough and violent characters in that world. There are laws and the moral standards of neighbors. In other words, a lot of people who don’t want a couple of amateurs just showing up unannounced.
We recommend Nothing But A Smile and hope you enjoy the book as much as we did.