Navigating through life away from the library.
Navigating through life away from the library.

Classic Book Review: Peyton Place by Grace Metalious


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 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.  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.


Grace Metalious (1924~1964) was the author of three other novels:  Return to Peyton Place, The Tight White Collar, and No Adam in Eden.  She was a resident of Gilmanton, New Hampshire.


One of the cool parts about being an American History instructor is that I get to talk about things that I like and one of the things that I like talking about is American history during the 1950s.  Such a dichotomy ~ on the one hand you had these middle~class families who were creating “sameness” in the suburbs with their white picket fenced enclaves of  2.5 kids and fluffy dog and on the other hand you had these under currents of rebellion against “the man” (whomever “the man” may be ~ marriage, racism, domesticity, etc).  It was such a fascinating time…

Then here comes this woman, Grace Metalious, who rips the roof off these staid New England homes and exposes their secrets; secrets that were thought to exist only in “those” neighborhoods.  I mean, women were reading these books with paper bags covering them, they were hiding them from their husbands, teenagers were sneaking peeks, and libraries were refusing to carry copies.  This book was a cultural phenomenon; chick lit before it became chick lit.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes literary soap operas.


Contains sex and violence

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this post.

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