Pub. Date:
Northeastern University Press
Peyton Place

Peyton Place

by Grace Metalious, Ardis CameronGrace Metalious
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When Grace Metalious's debut novel about the dark underside of a small, respectable New England town was published in 1956, it quickly soared to the top of the bestseller lists. A landmark in twentieth-century American popular culture, Peyton Place spawned a successful feature film and a long-running television series—the first prime-time soap opera.Contemporary readers of Peyton Place will be captivated by its vivid characters, earthy prose, and shocking incidents. Through her riveting, uninhibited narrative, Metalious skillfully exposes the intricate social anatomy of a small community, examining the lives of its people—their passions and vices, their ambitions and defeats, their passivity or violence, their secret hopes and kindnesses, their cohesiveness and rigidity, their struggles, and often their courage.This new paperback edition of Peyton Place features an insightful introduction by Ardis Cameron that thoroughly examines the novel's treatment of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and power, and considers the book's influential place in American and New England literary history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555534004
Publisher: Northeastern University Press
Publication date: 03/04/1999
Series: Hardscrabble Books-Fiction of New England Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 70,974
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.14(d)

About the Author

GRACE METALIOUS (1924–1964) was the author of Peyton Place, Return to Peyton Place, The Tight White Collar (1960), and No Adam in Eden (1963). She was a resident of Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

Customer Reviews

Peyton Place 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
dec0558 More than 1 year ago
I was a small child when the TV series "Payton Place" was on TV, and my parents and their friends all watched this "scandalous" (by mid 1960's standards) prime time soap opera. In my teens I saw the 1959 film version starring Lana Turner, and didn't think it was quite as "soap opery" as the TV show. In my 30's I read the novel and was actually much more impressed with the story the book tells. In mym opinion neither the 50's film version or the 60's TV series did the story justice.

I think this is a book that is screaming to be remade into a film. The theme of the story (bigotry and sexual phobias forced upon adolescents by overly conservative and/or religious adults--and adult panic over liberal siocial values influencing their young teenagers) is--if anything--more relevant today (2009) than it was in the 1960's.

What struck me with the novel (as opposed to the Film and TV series) was the TIME setting of the story: the 1930's Great Depression Era. That the time period was underplayed in the film and thrown out in the TV series (which was set in the 1960's) is important.

Also the AGE of the main characters is important. In the film all the "teens" were played by adults in their early 20's; in the TV series the "teens" were actually no longer teens but adults. In the novel the main characters are between 14 and 18 years of age. THEY ARE KIDS who know NOTHING about life (much less sex) and they are kept ignorance by their parents (who are in their 30's and early 40's) and who have their own "sins" to hide. The result is that the kids are increasingly isolated emotionally from their parents, and then either make tragic choices or become victims of predatory adults.

Consider the characters: ALLISON, the 14 year old, obedient, an A student who dreams of one day being a writer; who is bored with Peyton Place; who secretly questions everything she's been taught--and who has no idea that she is illegitimate; has no idea that her mother is guilt ridden over having had a baby out of wedlock by a man who was married to someone else.

NORMAN, Allison's cloest male friend; a 14 year old introvert who is teased for being a sissy--and whom we would today classify as a closeted gay youth.

SELENA--14 years old, Allison's best from a dirt poor family living on the out skirts of town; who is raped by her stepfather and then secretly has an abortion--which sets off a chain of events that eventually leads to a scandoulous trial.
The controversial aspects of the novel are STILL controversial: the place of sex education in the public school system; young women giving birth out of wedlock; the debate over abortion rights; teens coming to terms with their sexuality.
I think a film version--more faithful to the novel--that presents the story as PERIOD PIECE set during the Great Depression and the opening years of World War II--and featuring REAL 14-18 year old actors in the main roles would be a BIG hit!
And it would revive interest in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! It's interesting and has great character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It had it all.
WarriorChik More than 1 year ago
We read this for our book group, and while the writing style lacked polish, and several of the plot twists lacked depth or explanation, it is a courageous book for its time. To expose small town hypocrisy in such a way as to excite purient interest was hotly debated as necessary, and this book made for a very lively discussion by those who could not stand it, to those who found in it a socially redeeming value.
Dottieee 7 months ago
This book shocked America by presenting small-town life as it really was. Classed as " erotica" and published only in paperback, no "nice" woman would read it. Yet, it sold like wildfire. It is really sad that our society has sunk so low that it now is an acceptable, unoffensive, book. Even when the popularity of the book occurred, the criticism continued to be against its vulgarity. Its prejudices against Negroes, Jews and Roman Catholics were ignored. Those, still, continued to be southern vices that Yankees needed to come down and correct. Sins of the parents are visited upon the children. Alcohol is the answer to most problems. At least, killing an unborn baby was not approved of. Book Three has too much psychology and introspection. Some of it is downright ridiculous. Especially, the episode in the Pentecostal church. And, afterwards. Everything comes out all right, and everyone continues to live unhappily after. I'll not read the sequel to this raunchy book. d
tulikangaroo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow. How did I not know about this book? Actually, I can tell you: it sounds like a boring book about a town where nothing happens. But what simmers beneath the nothing is like a look into the deep, dark corners of your soul. It illuminates the "dirty" corners that people were so worried about in 1956, but more importantly the thin veneers of respectability and tolerance we still struggle with 60 years later and which makes it so powerful today.
elliottrainbow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first read this book in the fall of 1982, while attending junior college. Having grown up in a town much like Peyton Place (a Mississippi town of about 300) I could relate to some of the attitudes and narrow mindedness of the characters. I can certainly understand why this was so controversial in the 1950s, but what I can't understand is how Grace Metalious was considered such a bad writer. I think the book is well-written and highly entertaining. I've read many articles about the publishing impact this book had on the US and the only thing I can figure out is that a lot of people were just plain jealous. Sure, this isn't Gone With the Wind, but it wasn't meant to be. To me, Peyton Place accomplishes what Grace Metalious herself said she set out to do: expose the hypocrisy and bigotry of people in a small town. I know first-hand that this type of behavior still exists. As a gay man in a small southern town, I have experienced much bigotry toward gay people. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read. Think about it, without this book would books such as Valley of the Dolls or Hollywood Wives have been published? There are authors now who make a career out of writing books that are a pale imitation to this one. Considering this book sold millions of copies and is still in print today, I think a quote from Grace Metalious explains it best, "If I am a terrible writer, then an awful lot of people have terrible taste."
ken1952 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quite the shocking novel when it was first released, it really seems dated now. Metalious caused quite a ripple throughout the towns she based Peyton Place on. The Selena Cross storyline is probably the most interesting. The movie version of the novel took some different roads and, I think, improved the story. Hardscrabble's edition is very handsome as is its version of Return to Peyton Place.
saskreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Peyton Place was scandalous when originally published for daring to depict things like incest, abortion, class differences, adultery, pre-marital sex, etc. I believe it was scandalous not because of the "smutty" content, but because readers did not want to believe that people really acted or thought like the characters. Yes, it seems sort of tame by today's standards, but it's still worth reading.I found it overly long, however; certain characters or events could have been edited right out and the reader would still have finished with the same impression.
VermontBooklover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, really! I was amazed to recently learn that this book was not intended by the author as the sleazy potboiler that the conventional wisdom has it to be. It was cast that way upon its publication in 1956 by those who resented the aspersions the book cast on '50s conformity by suggesting that rape, incest, and domestic abuse ¿ things that "didn't happen" in pristine New England villages ¿ actually did exist. The book is about sex, but it's not sleazy. The characters are well-developed and you'll come to care about them deeply. Be SURE you get the edition pictured here, as its terrific introduction by Ardis Cameron puts the book in perspective culturally.
jseger9000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Peyton Place, a landmark of a book. Most people are familiar with at least the name and core concept of gossipy small town folks and their scandals, even if they aren¿t aware of the novel¿s existence.The book covers roughly ten years in the life of an isolated, sleepy New England town from 1935 to 1945. There is no single central character. Instead, the book follows the intricate web between a large number of Peyton Place¿s residents and the back-biting, bad mouthing and general hypocrisy that runs rampant through the town.The book is much better written than I was expecting. It is rich in incidental details, showing an intimate portrait of an isolated New England town in the late 1930¿s. Some of my favorite parts were throwaway details about ringing the bells for school or the old men sitting on the wooden benches in front of the court house. Peyton Place itself is probably the most prominent character in the book. Often Metalious uses quotes from unnamed characters to act as the `voice¿ of Peyton Place.Regardless, the book is not literary fiction. Rather, it revels in titillating details. I noticed over the course of the book that the narrative tended to wallow in the more salacious bits. At first, shocking secrets are presented pretty matter-of-factly. I got the feeling that the author felt more and more comfortable with her narrative as she wrote, because while the soap opera-like twists were always pretty breathtaking, as the story wound on they were presented more and more sensationally. I have to admit, it really did make the book more fun to read. Who doesn¿t like tut-tutting over other folk¿s dirty laundry?I do think that the book is a cut above Jackie Collins/Danielle Steele trash fiction though. While Metalious crammed Peyton Place with enough hot details to fill an issue of the National Enquirer, she was also very clear in pointing out the hypocrisy in the way that New England was presenting itself to the rest of the country back then. The book was clearly at least semi-autobiographical (as the character Allison MacKenzie seems to closely resemble the author) and you can see that as gleeful as the author was in dragging out scandal of the place, she clearly had some fondness for her roots.Lots of bad stuff happens in Peyton Place, but it is not all bad. There are still picnics in the woods, drowsy Indian summer days and townspeople helping each other out.Whatever reputation it earned when originally published, the book is some kind of classic now. Fifty-plus years later, the book still holds a reader's interest. It is unquestionably dated, but it is a novel portraying a particular time and place, so that is not a strike against it. The only reason I didn't rate this one at five stars is that some of the dialog is stilted (though some of it is fantastic) and I felt toward the end that the story was getting a little long in the tooth.All these years after the original publication of Peyton Place I was still often shocked while reading. The novel really does go for the sensational. But like Jean Shepherd¿s purposely `anti-nostalgic¿ reminiscences or the movie Pleasantville, it also tries to make you see that maybe the 'good old days' weren't so good for those that lived them.
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JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
I picked this novel up at a tag sale and having never read it before, wanted to find out what the fuss was about all those years ago. It was a terrific read and quite racy even by today's standards. It also gave me an interesting view of the social mores of the time. My only criticism is that the character of Mike Rossi was made out in the book to be pretty much of a good guy, but I couldn't like him when he struck Allison's mother. His behavior was dismissed away as acceptable, especially to the woman. That part made no sense. Still doesn't. It was as if she needed to have some "sense knocked into her." Otherwise, this was a powerful, capitvating story and very readable all these years later. 
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