Wednesday 25 November 2020

Metalious, Grace "Peyton Place"

Metalious, Grace "Peyton Place" - 1957

If you are looking for any topic in a book, this one probably has it. It tells us about the life in a small place in New Hampshire, starting in 1937, following its characters up until 1944.

The name of the town is fictional. The author herself said: "Peyton Place. Peyton Place, New Hampshire. Peyton Place, New England. Peyton Place, USA. Truly a composite of all small towns where ugliness rears its head, and where the people try to hide all the skeletons in their closets."

She's right there. If you have lived in a small town or village, you will recognize a lot of the characters. And if you have never lived in a small town or village, you can learn a lot about life in such a place. We always say, the disadvantage of living in a small town is "everybody knows everyone" and the advantage is "everybody knows everyone". Everybody knows all of your business but you are also never left alone in times of troubles.

Even though the story takes place a long, long time ago, I believe not that much has changed. I know a lot of Americans who still agree with the kind of double-sided morale shown in this book that was considered controversial, most notorious but also one of the best-selling novels of the 1950s.

The book was made into a movie (which won the Golden Globe and was nominated for 9 Academy Awards) and a television series.

The author was very philosophical and ahead of her time. Some of the quotes from her book could have been current ones:

"If every man … ceased to hate and blame every other man for his own failures and shortcomings, we would see the end of every evil in the world, from war to backbiting."

"Did it ever occur to you … that tolerance can reach a point where it is no more tolerance? When that happens, the noble-sounding attitude which most of us pride ourselves degenerates into weakness and acquiescence."

A great novel that deserves even more respect considering when it was written.

From the back cover:

"When it first appeared in 1956, Grace Metalious's Peyton Place unbottened 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."


  1. I read this for My Big Fat Reading Project. I was expecting something trashy, due to the subject matter and it being so notorious, but I agree, it is an excellent novel.

    1. I wasn't expecting much, either, to be honest, but I was positively surprised. Glad you liked it, as well.