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Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
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Peyton Place (1957)

by Grace Metalious

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Peyton Place (1)

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1,317318,546 (3.59)113
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I was too young to watch the series, but the title always rang a bell. So when a new Dutch edition of this book was released last year, I thought it was time to finally read what the fuss was all about. I guess most people know how the story goes and I do not want to spoil things for those who have not read the book. I can see why the book caused a scandal, because it scratches the thin surface of decency under which lies hypocrisy, adultery, etc. It is not world-literature and in many ways, the premises are a lot more promising than the end-product, but I'm glad I read it because it is part of popular, cultural history. ( )
  MGovers | Mar 15, 2018 |
While it's easy to see why PEYTON PLACE was considered scandalous and shocking when first published, it hasn't aged very well over the intervening 50 years. The writing style is a bit cumbersome (the characters, when expounding philosophically, speak in stilted, contraction-free dialogue) and some of the characterizations and relationships are overwrought. (The romantic pairing of Constance and Tomas in particular is hard to stomach - he pops her in the face right before their first big clinch. Very romantic.) Three-quarters of the way through the novel I was ready for it to be over, and confess to skimming just to get to the end. ( )
  mrsmig | Jan 19, 2018 |
"Peyton Place" could have been a classic. Metalious certainly is a good storyteller, excelling in plot, character development, and descriptions of small town America back in the 1930s. When the book was first published in 1956 the plot was scandalous; pregnancy out of wedlock, incest, murder, suicide, rape, big business men controlling every significant thing that happens in the town, controversy over who is better- Protestants or Catholics- and prejudice against anyone other than white caucasians... including minorities like Greeks and Italians. Most of the citizens of Peyton Place had never even seen a black person.

Peyton Place consists of a typical American small town center with commercial and retail buildings and the homes of working class people. One side boasts a half dozen mansions owned by the wealthiest men in town surrounded by lovely homes and on the other side of town are tar-roofed shacks where the residents pretty much kept to themselves.

The story takes place in a 6 year period of time and rotates around various characters; young and old, rich and poor, evil and good, happy and miserable... you name it. "Peyton Place" has it all. In fact, my single complaint about the book is simply too much drama… far too many disasters and sensationalized story lines occur in this 373 page book. Perhaps if it had been a 700 page saga covering a full decade or so, all the drama would have been justifiable. But it was just too much, too fast. There was so much evil, horror, and tragedy in this small New England town that at times I felt like Peyton Place should have been called Derry- as in Stephen’s Kings novel IT- that takes place in Derry, Maine. Not that any of the events of Peyton Place are “supernatural” or “unrealistic”... it’s just excessive tragedy. On top of all the human character flaws, during this period of time Peyton Place also suffers a wicked fire along with several catastrophic accidents that continuously threaten the entire community.

And while all this drama is happening, everyone in town is gossiping… from casual idle talk to vicious rumor mongering. The old men sit around in a circle at the local general store and go over minute details of everyone’s lives, they speculate what will happen next, and spread the word. If something happens in the morning, by sunset the entire town knows it. No cyber world needed... the town folk make sure of that. There is no hiding from prying eyes in Peyton Place.

The book was so well received in the 1950s that it was made into a weekly TV drama series that ran 5 years and won several Emmy Awards. ( )
  LadyLo | Oct 22, 2016 |
From the Book Jacket - When it first appeared in 1956, Grace Metalious’s [debut novel] unbuttoned the straitlaced New England of the popular imagination, transformed the publishing industry, an made its young author one of the most talked-about people in America. [The novel] – which topped the best-seller lists for more than a year and spawned a feature film and long-running television series – reveals the intricate social anatomy of a small New England town.

My Reactions
While I can certainly see that the inclusion of domestic abuse, incest, abortion, teen sex, etc would be shocking and titillating to a mid-1950s readership, I kept wondering “What’s all the fuss about?”.

Many of the characters were too simply drawn to be effective. I did like what Metalious was trying to show – the strength and growing independence of three women in a culture / town that tried to restrict them. I’m not sure she was entirely successful in this endeavor, however. Still, the story line did continue to pull me along, and overall I was entertained. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 7, 2016 |
Dark secrets, family shames, desperate longings, and sex permeate the seemingly quiet, conservative small town of Peyton Place. Some of the main characters followed over the course of about 8-10 years are the widowed Constance and her daughter Allison, Selena and her parents Nellie and Lucas, Dr. Matthew Swain, newspaper editor Sean, mama’s boy Norman, the Harrington men, and Tom Makris, Constance’s boyfriend. A real soap opera that comes off as quite contemporary in the 21st century!
1 vote Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Peyton Place has something over its heirs. It takes us to that time when there were still sordid secrets; when there were still boundaries to be broken; when something could still sneak up behind you and give you a fast and dirty shock.
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grace Metaliousprimary authorall editionscalculated
Huisman, JettyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jalovaara, LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pellegrini, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To GEORGE-
For all the reasons
he knows so well
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Indian summer is like a woman.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
Switch off those TVs, kill your mobiles and settle down with the most controversial book ever written. Once denounced as 'wicked', 'sordid', 'cheap moral filth', Peyton Place was the top read of its time, selling millions of copies worldwide.
Way before Twin Peaks, Survivor or Big Brother, the curtains were twitching in the mythical New England town of Peyton Place, and this soapy story exposed the dirty secrets of 1950s small-town America: incest, abortion, adultery, repression and lust.

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"When it first appeared in 1956, Grace Metalious's Peyton Place unbuttoned the straitlaced New England of the popular imagination, transformed the publishing industry, and made its young author one of the most talked-about people in America. Metalious's debut novel - which topped the bestseller lists for more than a year and spawned a feature film and long-running television series - reveals the intricate social anatomy of a small New England town. This new paperback edition, which celebrates the seventy-fifth anniversary of Grace Metalious's birth, will reintroduce readers to a landmark of American popular culture. An introduction by Ardis Cameron explores Peyton Place's influential role in American literary and cultural history."--Jacket.… (more)

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