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Peyton Place

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First published in 1956, Peyton Place uncovers the passions, lies and cruelties that simmer beneath the surface of a postcard-perfect town. At the centre of the novel are three women, each with a secret to hide: Constance MacKenzie, the original desperate housewife; her daughter Allison, whose dreams are stifled by small-town small-mindedness; and Selena Cross, her gypsy-eyed friend from the wrong side of the tracks.

412 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1956

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About the author

Grace Metalious

12 books79 followers
Grace Metalious was an American author, best known for the controversial novel Peyton Place.

She was born into poverty and a broken home as Marie Grace de Repentigny in the mill town of Manchester, New Hampshire. Blessed with the gift of imagination, she was driven to write from an early age. After graduating from Manchester High School Central, she married George Metalious in 1943, became a housewife and mother, lived in near squalor — and continued to write.

With one child, the couple moved to Durham, New Hampshire, where George attended the University of New Hampshire. In Durham, Grace Metalious began writing seriously, neglecting her house and her three children. When George graduated, he took a position as principal at a school in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

At the age of 30, she began work in the fall of 1954 on a manuscript with the working title The Tree and the Blossom. By the spring of 1955, she had finished a first draft. However, she and her husband regarded The Tree and the Blossom as an unwieldy title and decided to give the town a name which could be the book's title. They first considered Potter Place (the name of a real community near Andover, New Hampshire). Realizing their town should have a fictional name, they looked through an atlas and found Payton (the name of a real town in Texas). They combined this with Place and changed the "a" to an "e". Thus, Peyton Place was born.

Metalious — the "Pandora in bluejeans" — was said by some to be a dreadful writer and a purveyor of filth, but her most famous book changed the publishing industry forever. With regard to her success, she said, "If I'm a lousy writer, then an awful lot of people have lousy taste," and as to the frankness of her work, she stated, "Even Tom Sawyer had a girlfriend, and to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass."

Her other novels, all of which sold well but never achieved the same success as her first, were Return to Peyton Place (1959), The Tight White Collar (1961) and No Adam in Eden (1963).

Metalious died of alcoholism on February 25, 1964. "If I had to do it over again," she once remarked, "it would be easier to be poor. Before I was successful, I was as happy as anyone gets." She is buried in Smith Meeting House Cemetery in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,141 reviews
Profile Image for Matt.
907 reviews28.1k followers
August 7, 2021
“Scandalous occurrences, of a public nature that is, do not often take place in small towns. Therefore, although the closets of small-town folk are filled with such a number of skeletons that if all the bony remains of small-town shame were to begin rattling at once they would cause a commotion that could be heard on the moon, people are apt to say that nothing much goes on in towns like Peyton Place. While it is true, no doubt, that the closets of city dwellers are in as sad disorder as those of small-town residents, the difference is that the city dweller is not as apt to be on as intimate terms with the contents of his neighbor’s closet as is the inhabitant of a smaller community. The difference between a closet skeleton and a scandal, in a small town, is that the former is examined behind barns by small groups who convene over it in whispers, while the latter is looked upon by everyone, on the main street, and discussed in shouts from rooftops. In Peyton Place, there were three sources of scandal: suicide, murder and the impregnation of an unmarried girl…”
- Grace Metalious, Peyton Place

It’s always fascinating to read books that were deemed controversial in an earlier age. Doing so provides a unique insight into a society’s mores, its conception of itself, and its fears. Plus, it’s super amusing to find out what gave your parents, or your grandparents, or your great-grandparents the vapors, especially since the goalpost on those things have moved so dramatically in the last hundred years.

When it was first published in 1956, Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place was derided as “salacious” and “trashy” and “wicked” and “cheap.” Libraries refused to lend it. Booksellers refused to sell it. Despite – or just as likely, because of – this, it became a huge bestseller. It later spawned a movie, a sequel, a sequel to the movie, and a television series.

Unsurprisingly, given its age, Peyton Place feels positively tame by today’s standards. To be sure, it covers a whole host of hot button issues that would not be out of place in a novel written today: murder, suicide, abortion, incest (sort of), premarital sex, extramarital sex, class inequities, and substance abuse. Nevertheless, Metalious handles everything with a great deal of discretion. For instance, there isn’t a sex scene in this book that goes past second base. Furthermore, Metalious – despite her famed insouciance – is pretty rigorous in punishing her characters for transgressing moral boundaries, almost as though she were operating under the Hays Code. By way of example, a “peeping tom” literally dies while watching her neighbors make non-procreative love on their patio.

Since this is not nearly as scandalous as its reputation implies, the question becomes: is there a reason to read Peyton Place?

The answer is yes.

It’s a great book.


A summary of Peyton Place is difficult, because there is no grand arc to it. Unlike the movie, which pared Metalious’s sprawling work down to a traditional (and somewhat boring) coming-of-age story, the novel does not have a traditional plot. There is no central protagonist, no single conflict, no obvious through-line. Instead, this is an epic block party where you get to meet dozens of the citizens of this small, curiously-named New England town. I guess the best way to describe it is as an edifice constructed entirely of subplots.

Peyton Place begins in 1937 and ends around the conclusion of World War II. It is written in the third-person omniscient, plunging into and out of the lives of various characters, showing us their hopes, fears, and secrets.

Many, many secrets.

If you like secrets, especially the ones that only slowly come to light, you should really think about renting an Airbnb in Peyton Place.


It would push the limits of my word count to list everyone who is featured in this book. To use a sports term, Peyton Place has a deep bench. Suffice to say there is an interesting swath of humanity on display.

If pressed, I would have to say that top billing goes to Constance MacKenzie, a single mother and successful small-business owner who is raising her rebellious daughter Allison, while trying to keep her from making her same mistakes. Hopefully it doesn’t spoil anything to say that this mistake involved the physical act of love. Constance enters into a slow-burn courtship with Tomas Makris, the school’s new principal. An outspoken out-of-towner, Tomas is often the voice of reason. Additionally, as a man with Greek heritage, he is what passes for diversity in the otherwise all-white municipality.

These three all live on the good side of town.

On the other side, in a slum of drafty shacks, lives Allison’s best friend Selena. She is smart and beautiful and ambitious, but finds her plans thwarted by an abusive and lecherous stepfather. Selena’s response to her stepfather’s advances, and the long-term consequences that follow, comprise one of the biggest and longest running threads in the book.

While the paths of Allison and Selena constitute a major portion of the narrative, their storylines are joined by many others.

The guest stars of Peyton Place include Dr. Matthew Swain, who is the closest we come to an all-around decent human being; Kenny Stearns, a raging alcoholic who is also a fine gardener; Norman Page, a runty kid with a disturbingly overprotective mother; and Rodney Harrington, the rich kid who has it all, and lets you know it.

Many of Metalious’s characters initially present as archetypes. Her gift is in giving them multiple dimensions. I think it is a testament to her talent that – with the exception of Doc Swain, with his flexible ethics – there isn’t a single person in Peyton Place that I totally and thoroughly liked. Everyone is flawed, or damaged, or somehow twisted by life. Some are able to overcome this. Others are not.


Peyton Place is glorious in its evocation of place. I got a real sense of the town, its history, its layout. Though it doesn’t exist in reality, it took shape and depth in my mind. I felt like I could walk around it, past the squalid shacks, or Doc Swain’s hospital, or Constance’s dress shop, or the five-and-ten. I could close my eyes and see the two church steeples bookending the town’s outer limits. Metalious is precise with her descriptions of geography and weather, and uses those factors as additional characters.


Metalious’s prose is seldom subtle – especially not her sultry depictions of an Indian summer – but it is effective. Her ability to create an effective set piece – such as a mini-arc featuring all the town’s drunks holed up in the same cellar – is really quite astonishing. About halfway through, I realized that while the book was oversold in terms of outrageousness, it has been grossly undersold in terms of literary merit.

Just recently, I finished Winesburg, Ohio, a so-called “forgotten classic” that features a cycle of vignettes regarding the citizens of the eponymous town. While Winesburg struggles and strains for a profundity it never comes close to achieving, Metalious effortlessly mines far deeper human insights while also being incredibly entertaining. Alas, because of that entertainment value, Peyton Place’s reputation is not nearly as lofty as it deserves.


Recently, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. On the day of her rather-lengthy surgery, I went to the hospital with a copy of Peyton Place under my arm. Over the course of that extremely long day, I finished the entire book, which is something I seldom do. It was a strange kind of blessing, being able to slip into the lives of these people, all of them alternately broken and hopeful, far-seeing and blind. The old cliché of fiction as an escape from reality never felt so true. Peyton Place became an immersive escape. I wouldn’t want to live there, but it was a hell of a place to visit.
Profile Image for christa.
745 reviews272 followers
March 28, 2007
... more like melrose place. i couldn't put it down. part of me wished i was reading it in 1951, hiding the copy in a clothes hamper next to a bottle of vodka.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,176 reviews9,203 followers
July 5, 2020
What a very lurid sleazy shocking sordid unsavoury distasteful delicious potpourri of popular parricidal perversion this was, to be sure. Highlights of the story include

Underage sex
Cat strangling
Breast exposing in moving automobile leading to fatal crash
Hideous fairground accident
And much more

Spoilerish remarks may now follow.


Mr Card was on his knees on the ground, his face hidden in Mrs Card’s flesh, and Mrs Card was lying very still, with her legs spread a little, and a smile on her face that showed her teeth.

- This is Norman peeping through a hedge and observing the canoodlings of a married couple

When Norman could stand it no longer, he jumped at the cat and fastened his hands round its throat

- This is Norman’s reaction to observing the canoodlings. Sad to say, the cat dies.

Be nice to me honey…be good to me. It ain’t like I was your real pa.

This is the main scumbag of the novel speaking to his stepdaughter. The publishers made Grace change the character into a stepfather.

Blood gushed up in a fountain and bathed her face.

- This is the consequence of trying to rape her when she’s all grown up and can crack his skull with a poker.

“Ginny”, he would demand in a terrible voice, “did you ever do it with my father?”

- This is a guy uncertain about the faithfulness of his dear wife.

I’ve got the hardest breasts you ever played with.

-This is the girl in the car just before she exposes one of the breasts causing the driver to crash.

I also know that in addition to a child being physically ready for sex at fifteen or sixteen his mind has been educated and conditioned to sex and he feels a tremendous basic drive for sex

- This is the massively boned (see below) impossibly handsome new high school principal speaking, telling the mother of a 16 year old to take a chill pill. This was before the abovementioned auto accident.

I thought I was dying and it was the loveliest feeling in the world.
- This is me reading Peyton Place. No, haha not really.


After Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Lols and Harold Robbins’ The Carpetshaggers I thought well, why not, let’s do it : Peyton Place, the 1956 trash classic to complete the trilogy.

This novel shocked American people so badly they all had to read it, and it quickly beat Gone with the Wind and became the biggest selling novel of all time in the USA. It was later beaten by To Kill a Mockingbird and The Godfather.

Grace Metalious is no Henry James, but that might not be a bad thing. Henry never wrote

Thomas Makris was a massively boned man with muscles that seemed to quiver every time he moved


Anyone, she declared to herself, would be impressed with a man that size, with his almost revolting good looks and that smile that belongs in a bedroom.


His lips were full without being loose and the line of his chin was pleasantly pronounced.

So this is a novel where you can encounter massively boned men. And when women lose their temper, this can happen :

“I won’t have it!” she cried, stamping her foot and flinging her cigarette into the empty fireplace. “I simply will not stand for it!”

Constance’s teeth chattered with an anger such as she had never known.

And when a man with normal bones gets mad at his wayward son, this happens :

Harmon threw his newspaper down on the floor and pounded the fist of one hand into the palm of the other. … “I’m not going to sweat blood at the mill to send him to college if this is the way he’s going to behave,” said Harmon.

But then Grace rescues that scene with this sly comment

Harmon Carter did not sweat blood at the Cumberland Mills. He was a bookkeeper in the office, and the only time he ever broke out in a mild perspiration was when one of the young secretaries there bent over his desk to ask him a question.

Because Grace has a terrible tragic tale to tell there isn’t as much of that kind of wit as I would have liked

There’s no doubt this novel has the right targets in view – sexual hypocrisy, male privilege, small town politics, the viciousness of neighbours, the moral squalor of poverty. I confess I hated Grace making herself a character in the book – all the stuff about wanting to be a writer then going to New York then failing to write a novel was eurrgh my brain my brain. I wish writers didn’t always think we want to read about writers when everyone knows writers are the dullest of all dull people and all have the same problems and live in the same grotty apartments. So there was that.
And also, yes, these days Peyton Place is more like a walk on the mild side. But in context this was a monster and …. Just…. is still worth reading. It’s probably clinging on with its fingernails.

And one thing you can say about trash- what with girls falling in machinery and cat strangling and secret abortions and huge boned men it’s almost never boring. And you can’t say that for Henry James.
Profile Image for Diane .
377 reviews13 followers
February 1, 2015
I thought this book was excellent and I give the author cudos for writing this book when she did and to the publisher for publishing it. I was waffling at 4.5 stars and given this plus the author's writing I decided to rate it 5 on GR rather than down to 4 (since GR doesn't offer 1/2 stars).

I felt like a 'nosy neighbor' (of Peyton Place) reading this book. It's not a gripping page turner, for me it was a book to be savored (it took me a month to read it!) I was very involved with each of the main characters' lives and goings on and that's just what this book is. We observe the lives of a cast of characters of a small New England town (Peyton Place) There are MANY very serious issues that are dealt with in this book - rape, unwed pregnancies, yet it is never written in a sordid fashion. In addition, the character development is outstanding.

I mentioned the writing -- exquisite -- I was captivated from the first sentence "Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay." Having been born and raised in New England, I remember exactly what Indian summers were like.

A true classic!
Profile Image for Tiny Pants.
211 reviews19 followers
October 15, 2010
I had to go down to four stars because I thought the ending fizzled, but this was darn close to a five-star read. I was expecting something lurid a la Jacqueline Susann, but this is actually more like a New England-y version of To Kill a Mockingbird -- class conflict, racism, and closely-kept secrets in a small town. The other closest comparison would be to Stephen King, in that Peyton Place features an enormous cast of very New England-y characters, as well as many digressions into their thoughts and plans, no matter how unflattering some of these may be.

There are a lot of things I want to say about this book, but I don't want to give any spoilers (since I myself have such an intense aversion to them). Suffice to say I'm going to be combing the racks of my local used bookstores for copies of Return to Peyton Place. I don't care if sequels are rarely as good as originals, I'm going back!

One additional point I thought was worth mentioning -- it's a shame that this book has a reputation as being Valley of the Dolls-esque, because it's not lurid or sexual in the same way. In this way, I feel like it's a similar book to Lolita in that the title has become a shorthand for people who haven't read it to refer to something that the book is not about at all. Lolita isn't a youthful seductress; what Nabokov puts across again and again in his prose is that she's a child who is being sexually exploited. Similarly here, we get actually a pretty well-rounded spectrum of (hetero)sexuality, from abuse and rape to positive, woman-friendly sex. If you're looking for lesbian incest and nuns being gang-raped, don't read Peyton Place (instead read Jacqueline Susann's Once is Not Enough, in which all of the above and way, way more occur).
Profile Image for Debbie W..
707 reviews452 followers
July 21, 2019
I guess if I read it when this book was published, it would have been quite titillating; however, it just seems ho-hum if one reads it in 2017.
Profile Image for Michael Borowski.
2 reviews12 followers
June 17, 2008
Without a question, my favorite read of all-time. I've re-read it every Fall since my first time in 1986.
Forget about the naysayers who write it off as mere soap, Metalious' earthy descriptions of the seasons alone are worth it. Anyone from a small town will be able to relate, but this is a MUST for anyone from a New England smalltown. We summered next door to the small town upon which this novel was based, and this one hits the nail right on the head. Enjoy!
And if you do like it, I highly suggest Metalious' other works as well. Excepting the somewhat obvious sequel (which she didn't want to write), THE TIGHT WHITE COLLAR and NO APPLE IN EDEN are also winners written in a similar vein.
Profile Image for Lucia Nieto Navarro .
698 reviews144 followers
July 4, 2022

Cuando vi como describían esta novela y la pinta que tenia, supe que tenia que leerlo. Y es de estas novelas que te llaman aunque hayan sido publicadas hace tiempo.

Es una novela de esas que si tienes pueblo, vas a identificarte mucho con la historia, un lugar pequeño donde todo el mundo habla, cotillean, chismorrean, difaman mentiras para socializar...

Una de nuestras protagonistas, Allison, es una estudiante, solitaria, que sufre bullyng por los compañeros de clase y con una madre, que bueno, que tampoco ha tenido una vida nada fácil.
Según vas avanzando en la historia te iras metiendo y conociendo la historia de todos los personajes de esta novela ( que son muchos), y conocerás los secretos de todos, llegando a tratar temas como el incesto, la violencia, el machismo, racismo, la religión

Los capítulos de la novela son cortos, y cada uno se centra en alguno de los personajes principales, y así ir contándonos su secreto, porque todos tienen algo que ocultar y te atrapará hasta saber que narices esta pasando. Algo que me llama mucho, es que el narrador sea omnisciente, ya que te vas a enterar de todo lo que pasa en este pueblo sin perder ni un tipo de detalle.

Hay tantos personajes que es aquí donde esta lo importante de la novela, en sus diálogos, en sus historias, y obviamente vas a tener tus personajes favoritos con sus historias y personajes que vas a odiar, pero incluso los que odias vas a querer enterarte de sus historia.

La novela esta dividida en tres partes y en cada parte irán apareciendo personajes nuevos pero en las tres partes se van a mantener dos protagonistas, Selena y Allison.

Estoy muy de acuerdo en que esta novela tuviera tanta polemica en el momento que se publico, la autora habla sin ningún tipo de tapujos de todo lo que quiere, aunque quizá ahora no nos resulte tan escandaloso, es entendible que en los años 50 tuviera esa repercusión.

Me ha gustado mucho y me ha sorprendido para bien, es una historia que engancha que quieres saber, una historia de personajes que aunque no tenga giros ni una trama brutal es muy ágil y muy entretenida.
Profile Image for Judy Vanderhule.
25 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2008
I must confess. I read this book on a bit of a lark. This is the only book my mother ever forbid me to read. Back in the 50s when it first came out, it was all the rage, but considered quite shocking by many midwesterners. At the time, I was too young to care whether or not I read. I had too many other fun things to do. Over the years I thought about reading it several times, but never followed through. It took me over 30 years to finally sit down and read it. It is a remarkable and powerful book. Metalious sharply describes life in small town America in the 50s. One of my favorite parts of the book was actually the introduction by Ardis Cameron who presents an excellent description of the novel's treatment of class, gender, race, ethnicity and power. Reading it, it was easy to believe that Metalious was a true feminist who purposefully depicted the social anatomy of a community to expose the quiet acceptance of hideous things like child abuse, incest, and rape. There are many positive forces and personalities in the book as well. I'm awfully glad I finally sat down to read this book. Don't rent the video or watch reruns of the TV show should they ever reappear. Do sit down and read this classic from a fresh perspective. In my opinion, Grace was a feminist when it was terribly difficult to be one... the 1950s.
Profile Image for Carla Remy.
818 reviews50 followers
August 8, 2019
Okay, I really finished this. I'm glad I read to the end, certain things in this very long narrative come to their conclusion there. I compared Peyton Place to Young Adult, and there is a basic, for everyone ness about it. But it is not badly written. It's smart and real.

From 1956
I wanted to read this, it is so significant to culture, to the rise of paperback books. What I did read felt like Young Adult with lots of sex. So it makes sense that it would be so phenomenally popular. In the 1950s. I might read it sometime. But I'll probably
Profile Image for Eibi82.
188 reviews62 followers
July 31, 2020

Bienvenidas/os a Peyton Place, pasear por sus calles y conocer a sus habitantes alterará considerablemente vuestro sistema nervioso.
Un libro absorbente que he devorado en apenas cuatro días en compañía de mi querida @hache_cr

Aunque Grace Metalious escribió este libro en 1956, está ambientado a finales de los años 30-40. Todo puede pasar en este pequeño pueblo de Nueva Inglaterra. Nadie está a salvo. Nadie puede esconderse tras las apariencias. Al final, todo sale a la luz.

Tengo que decir que esta mujer es una crack retratando la sociedad estadounidense de aquella época. No se deja absolutamente nada en el tintero - no me extraña que su publicación fuera un escándalo -; por un lado, el tono general es de salseo, algo que relaja un poco el drama, y que te hace estar pegada a las páginas como si no hubiera mañana, pero por otro, el nivel de violencia -tanto física como verbal- hacia la mujer es muy brutal. Obviamente, está escrito como denuncia, pero es cierto que puede llegar a violentar, por eso prefiero avisar: tiene algunos capítulos content warning.

Peyton Place no deja de ser un reflejo puro y duro del mundo a pequeña escala, donde el abuso, la corrupción política y religiosa, el odio racial y de clase,...conviven día a día; todo ello, envuelto en ese halo de hipocresía tan característico; un ambiente asfixiante con el que es difícil romper.

A pesar de la visceralidad con la que habla (se palpa la mala leche), lo descarnada que llega a ser en muchos momentos, no puedes parar de leer. Entras en Peyton Place en la primera página y formas parte del pueblo hasta que llegas a la última; observando, analizando e intentando digerir la vida de todos estos personajes de los que ya formas parte.
Pocos libros consiguen esa inmersión y aunque en ciertas partes me ha revuelto un poco, es una lectura que se ha ganado mi corazón lector a pulso y un puesto en My Century of Books de 1956. Peyton Place es de esas lecturas que no se olvidan.

¡Oh, te quiero! —exclamó silenciosamente—. Te quiero tal como eres. Con tu belleza y tú crueldad, con tu bondad y tu fealdad. Ahora te conozco y ya no me asustas. Quizá vuelvas a hacerlo mañana o pasado, pero en este momento te quiero y no te tengo miedo. Hoy sólo eres una ciudad.

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,910 reviews35.3k followers
February 18, 2015
I read this many years ago --
Saw the movie --
Watched the TV series --

I guess you can say I was hooked even as a young woman --

It was the Fifty Shades of Gray in 'its' day ---(even people who closed their eyes to 'such trash' were engaged in conversations about Peyton Place)

I'm now about to begin the novel "Unbuttoning America" by Ardis Cameron. A more academic book about the history and culture influence of 'Peyton Place'. Sound be interesting!
Profile Image for Laubythesea.
307 reviews335 followers
September 28, 2022
“Las ciudades pequeñas son conocidas por su memoria privilegiada y su lengua afilada” como resumen de lo que encontramos en esta novela publicada en 1956. Entonces causó un tremendo revuelo y escándalo en Estados Unidos por la variedad de temas oscuros e incómodos (y no por ello menos reales y habituales), que encierran sus páginas. Pero es que… ¿a quién le gusta que digan verdades a la cara? Especialmente cuando esas verdades son lo peor de uno mismo.
Peyton Place es una novela coral que nos acerca a una población ficticia pero que tiene mucho de Potter Place, donde la autora vivió algunos años. A partir de capítulos cortos, saltaremos de casa en casa, de ciudadano en ciudadano, de familia a familia, para conocer los secretos, anhelos, negocios, relaciones… que cada cual esconde lejos del resto, cuando cierra las puertas de su casa. (Consejito: si como yo eres malo con los nombres, te animo a que te hagas un croquis)
Una historia que se cuece a fuego lento abarcando una década (años 30-40s), sin prisas, como el mejor de los guisos. Es así como se realzan los ingredientes y se consigue el sabor más sabroso, y Grace Metalius sabía lo que se hacía. Como quien no quiere la cosa, pieza a pieza, se va dando forma a un puzzle donde todo termina por encajar y sacar a la luz las vergüenzas de un lugar lleno de diferencias sociales que separan a unos de otros, racismo, corrupción… y temas tan escabrosos como el incesto. Al tiempo que vemos crecer (y envejecer) a los personajes, los vemos enamorarse, casarse, mentir, asesinar, cumplir sueños, fracasar, morir…
La autora se muestra finísima, directa y certera en la crítica a la hipocresía de la sociedad, a los sinsentidos del puritanismo, al abuso de poder desde los estamentos religiosos y empresariales. Esto se da, tristemente, en todas partes, pero sin duda en las comunidades pequeñas destaca aún más, puesto que la vida de cualquier, parece de dominio público. ¿Lo mejor? La narración consigue hacerte sentir que tú eres una vecina más, cotilleando lo que sucede al resto a través del visillo. Y eso engancha, mucho.
Una novela perfecta para leer en una tarde de lluvia o debajo de una manta, llena de salseos que querrás comentar con todo el mundo. Una historia que quizá ya no escandalice (porque lamentablemente nos hemos “acostumbrado” a lo conocer las peores caras del ser humano), pero desde luego incomoda y es fácil imaginar el tsunami que debió suponer en su momento.
331 reviews214 followers
April 20, 2010
One of the many things I remember from my childhood home is my mothers bookshelf which included the usual Readers Digest Omnibus books, a copy of Teach Yourself Italian, Norah Lofts, a book about Shackletons Adventures in Antarctica, Lady Chatterleys Lover and Peyton PLace. I can't remember if any of the books ever moved from their place on that shelf (which would indicate that someone was reading them) my mother never spoke about either of the two banned books and I was never, even slightly interested in looking at them let alone read them. My mothers copy of Peyton Place has long gone but a review on GRs rekindled the memory of it's place on that shelf and I decided it was long overdue a visit. Oh happy day, Oh joy when I started to read this! It tells the stories of three women (two from girlhood to womanhod) from small town NE during the late thirties and early forties and whilst many refer to it as soap I believe (along with many others) that nothing could be further from the truth. The stories of these women cover subjects, which at the time were pushed under the carpet, and in general ignored as either not taking place at all or only in the very rarest of circumstances, whereas in reality these things (incest, abortion, domestic violence) were situations faced by many women. It is also a book which is open about the sexuality of women which I guess at the time was something that women weren't, sexual that is. I can see why it caused a stir! It portrays people and situations exactly as they are, a side of people that at the time, some would like to think did not exist. The story though is not solely about women, many of the things that take place in Peyton Place happen to men and the story is as much theirs from the town big shot who rides rough shod over everyone and who raises his son to be equally as arrogant, to the newspaper publisher who seems to be to afraid to be controversial, and the little boy, raised by his strange mother, who harbours sadomasochistic inclinations.

I loved it and as this was a library copy intend to to get my hands on my very own copy sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Joanne Renaud.
Author 12 books53 followers
August 18, 2013
At times reminiscent of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD or the sprawling New England cast of IT, PEYTON PLACE starts out strong, but eventually sags under the weight of too many characters and too many plotlines. The friendship of Selena Cross and Allison MacKenzie is pretty interesting, and I became especially invested in Selena. Unfortunately, the two characters drift apart, and the focus is lost. You know you're in trouble if more ink is spent on Allison having sex with her married boyfriend, a guy who isn't even introduced until the last two chapters, than on Selena Cross's own murder trial. Oops.

I also have to mention how I hated having to read about the romantic trials and tribulations of Constance MacKenzie and Mike Rossi (aka Tomas Makris). She's a neurotic mess, he's a pontificating rapist. I kept thinking, "Please take me back to Selena's POV!" but alas, 'twas not to be: in fact, the story ends with Allison realizing what a swell guy Mike really is. Feh.

Also, how creepy is Norman Bates... I mean... Norman Page? I laughed at the reviewer who said he seemed like a serial-killer-in-training. Because, yeah. He really is, down to killing innocent animals. I hoped he would come to a spectacular end, but alas: 'twas not to be. He kind of disappears from the story, like Chuck Cunningham from "Happy Days."

Anyway, the book is worth reading, but after I finished it I had to listen to some cleansing punk rock. Apart from Selena, the good doctor Matt Swain and possibly newspaper owner Seth Buswell, everyone in PEYTON PLACE is an asshole. Where is Pennywise the Clown when you need him?

Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,606 followers
May 24, 2014

Yes, even by today's standards this book is quite the scandalous read. I've heard it spoken of with winks and nudges since I was a kid, and finally decided to read it and . . . . well! Affairs, abortions, drunken benders, legal and political machinations, unhappy marriages, abuse, swears, religious crises, it's all there! Peyton Place seems like a nice, quiet little town, until you peer behind the curtains, and then the ugly underbelly is revealed. The book was highly addictive, told in a gossipy style that was like reading a tabloid or listening to a nosy neighbor dish the dirt.

The one thing I didn't really like about it is that very few of the stories really resolved. It follows a handful of Peyton Place residents over ten years, but then it just . . . ends. Not that I thought all their problems should be neatly tidied away, but most of the characters drop off the face of the earth and there's no real resolution for the others, either. I was also a little annoyed at the fact that she set the book during the mid-thirties, early forties, but didn't bother to do any research. Girls are described wearing halter tops and short shorts during the summer (in 1937?! I don't think so!), and no one mentions the stock market or banks failing or anything like that. If she didn't keep telling the reader the year, you would think it was the 1950's, when the book was written.
Profile Image for Brian.
306 reviews47 followers
February 15, 2022
Peyton Place surprised me. I always assumed it was a fairly trashy potboiler in the romance genre, which is one genre that I never read. But since it was a selection for one of my book clubs, I thought I’d give it a try. I wouldn’t classify it as great literature, but I did find it to be much better than I thought it would be. I didn’t even find it particularly lurid or scandalous, although that can most likely be attributed to the passage of time since its publication in 1956.

The strengths of the book lie in its portrayals of several women who don’t quite fit in the small conservative and conventional New England town of Peyton Place. The primary female characters, Constance Mackenzie, her daughter Allison Mackenzie, and Allison’s friend Selena Cross, all have secrets of which Peyton Place would disapprove. Constance had shared her secret with her mother, Elizabeth, who “lived with fear…. In her worst nightmares she heard the voices of Peyton Place.”

These secrets and the fear of their exposure are at the core of the moral, ethical, and practical conflicts that confront the characters throughout the course of the novel. Those conflicts, along with the vivid renderings of the characters and of the town itself, make Peyton Place a pleasurable and worthwhile reading experience. I don’t regret reading it, despite my initial misgivings.
Profile Image for Javier.
722 reviews182 followers
July 12, 2022
Pueblo pequeño, infierno grande. Bienvenidos a Peyton Place.

Cuando Peyton Place fue publicada por primera vez en 1956 supuso una auténtica revolución en la sociedad estadounidense, calificándolo de escandaloso y llegándose a prohibir en algunas bibliotecas. Aunque a día de hoy los estándares actuales hagan que su lectura no incomode igual que lo hizo en su época, lo que cuenta tiene ese punto de atemporalidad que hace que sea fácil reconocer a la sociedad de hoy en día en muchas de las situaciones que describe.

A primera vista Peyton Place parece un pueblo bonito y tranquilo…hasta que levantas las alfombras y se revela toda la mierda que escondían debajo. Secretos y rumores que sus habitantes están más que dispuestos a difundir y seguir perpetuando; donde todos hablan de todos aún sin saber (¿de qué me suena esto? 🤔); con hambre de escándalos, ya que subrayar defectos y errores ajenos hace que los propios no parezcan para tanto; y donde el que se sale de la norma establecida es señalado y ridiculizado, la mayor parte de las veces por envidia y falta de coraje para hacer lo mismo por parte del que señala.

La novela explora temas como el despertar sexual, el incesto, el aborto, el odio de clase, el racismo, las relaciones extramatrimoniales, el fanatismo religioso, la corrupción policiaca o la violencia de género, y lo hace sin medias tintas, haciendo que la lectura resulte adictiva ya que por momentos te parece estar escuchando a una persona contándote los trapos sucios del vecino.

A pesar de tener un reparto coral con gran cantidad de personajes, en ningún momento uno se siente perdido, ya que todos ellos están fantásticamente caracterizados, incluso los más secundarios. En mi opinión, uno de los puntos fuertes de la obra es cómo están representados aquellos personajes femeninos que se alejan de aquello que se esperaba de las mujeres en los años 30 y 40, como Selena y Allison, y cuyos comportamientos y actitudes de mujeres fuertes e independientes escuecen a más de uno.

Los capítulos cortos y centrados en diferentes personajes hacen que la lectura resulte más dinámica y consiguen que la representación que se hace de Peyton Place sea mucho más vívida ya que nos permite conocer diferentes voces, guste más o menos aquello que dicen.

Con Peyton Place, Grace Metalious consiguió enfrentar a la sociedad norteamericana con sus miserias, hablando sin tapujos, en esta historia en la que los secretos y el miedo a ser revelados constituyen el epicentro de los conflictos éticos y morales a los que deben hacer frente sus personajes.

Gracias a Blackie Books por el envío del ejemplar.
Profile Image for Rob.
124 reviews11 followers
November 2, 2015
I don't mean to cause any offense to people who grew up in the fifties, but in a way I'm glad that I didn't come of age then. It seems hard to understand the criticisms that were thrown at this book in that time. I agree with the author when she said "to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass."

I look back at what I was taught in Literature classes, that things like symbolism are what make a novel great, and all that just seems like crap to me now. I don't mean to knock symbolism, but it's realistic and believable three-dimensional characters and a good plot that make a novel great. When none of the adult characters in a book have sex drives, then the book is at a hefty disadvantage at the start because it's set in never-never land. Grace Metalious certainly understood. If people think that sex in a book automatically makes it trashy, then that's their loss.

This book was written with startling clarity. I had completely forgotten how uncomfortable it was at times to be a child, until Grace reminded me. It's hard to imagine how she found the incredible honesty that it must have taken to write this book, but I think that very honesty is partly what drove her to the alcoholism that killed her at an early age.
Profile Image for Núria.
530 reviews558 followers
December 29, 2013
‘Peyton Place’ fue escrito en los años 50; el éxito fue tan grande que luego llegó una secuela. Después, la novela se convirtió en película, y finalmente en serie de televisión, que probablemente es la forma que más le pegue a esta historia, porque al fin y al cabo es un culebrón. Lo sabía antes de empezarlo, pero aún así me esperaba más. No sé, esperaba engancharme más y empatizar más con los personajes. Tiene las virtudes de un culebrón: se lee rápido, y no aburre sino que entretiene. Pero también sus defectos: personajes horriblemente planos y unos clímax histéricos y manidos que caen en un ridículo bastante estrepitoso.

Supongo que se tiene que reconocer el valor de la propuesta, que tiene algo de fundacional. Quiero decir que debe de ser uno de los primeros libros que explota el ahora tópico esquema de pueblo aparentemente idílico de familias modélicas de puertas afuera pero que esconden secretos más o menos escabrosos de puertas adentro. Así, se atreve a tocar temas como el sexo prematrimonial, el incesto, el aborto, los abusos sexuales, el caciquismo de los poderosos, etc. Y él que a mí más me ha parecido más interesante (por más poco habitual): la sexualidad femenina, desde el despertar hasta el redescubrimiento pasando por la represión.

Se tiene que reconocer que Grace Metalious sabe escribir y prueba de esto es la manera deliciosa en la que describe el paso de las estaciones, que además le dan al libro una estructura circular y bien cerrada. También me ha gustado mucho como describe el día a día intrascendente del ambiente de pueblo, los abuelos sentados siempre en el mismo sitio marujeando, los tejemanejes del cacique que tiene a todo el pueblo sometido, o la amistad entre el director del diario local y el doctor del pueblo. Me han gustado menos los amoríos y otros tópicos culebronescos, que son demasiado previsibles y gastados. En este sentido, a Metalious le preocupa más la acción (que pasen cosas, muchas cosas, y que sean muy fuertes, y no importa si parecen forzadas) que no construir unos personajes con verdadera entidad, y es una pena, porque esta novela podría haber sido muy grande, pero sólo se queda en correcta.
Profile Image for Jota Carax.
122 reviews4 followers
May 18, 2021
Se suele decir de algunos autores que son «adelantados a su tiempo», y este es el caso de Grace Metalious. Es una novela escrita en 1954 con una voz que parece contemporánea. Una voz que escandalizó a una sociedad estadounidense aún más racista, misógina y clasista que ahora.

Una joya rescatada por Blackie Books.
Profile Image for Angela.
1,025 reviews37 followers
January 18, 2018
this is just one of my fave small town sagas of all time. I love the characters and the story, I recommend this one to everyone. This was considered a soap opera type of story in the era it was written. It was considered scandalous and was written by a reasonably young writer.
Profile Image for Hayley.
453 reviews10 followers
September 22, 2019
Ugh. How depressing. I left this book feeling horrible about the world. There was not a single storyline I liked or that resolved in a way that left me feeling positive. So melodramatic with unrelatable characters. I seriously did not care about a single character partly because they were mostly shallowly drawn. I also thought Peyton Place was overall a mean spirited book. I like sad stories but this one left me with this frustrating “so what?” feeling, like the whole thing was pointless. Rape, suicide, murder, abortion and a super random maiming are all highlights of Peyton Place. And sex, lots of sex. And while it was written by a woman, it is rift with misogyny of the time it was written. My personal favorite is when a woman has her sexual frigidity and fear raped out of her by the man she later marries. And this is treated as a positive turning point for the character. I maybe could chalk it up to the 50s love of “forcible seduction” but that does not at all jive with the sort of sexual freedom (where women clearly want sex) of the rest of the novel. And the other rape storyline which is portrayed negatively. So one rape is fine, but the other is bad? I also found the book too random and wandering with a tendency to hop between perspectives in a single scene. What a miserable book. I gave it two stars because I did find parts engaging and I finished it but overall I am not a fan.
Profile Image for Misha Crews.
Author 21 books51 followers
January 7, 2009
This is one of those books whose very title has become part of the American lexicon, and now I understand why! PEYTON PLACE is full of multi-faceted characters -- none of them all good, none of them all bad, but all of them memorable. With enviable skill and obvious love, Grace Metalious paints a vivid picture of a small New England town and the people who live, die and love there.

What I learned most from reading this book is that the literary seeds which Metalious planted with this novel have sprouted and grown, vine-like, down through the years. Her style of storytelling, her subject matter, even her idioms, are evident in so much of the modern literature and entertainment. In some ways, it seems that all modern writers are children of Peyton Place, myself included!

I don't know if Grace Metalious realized what an impact her book would have -- either on society or on her fellow writers -- but it's a really remarkable achievement. Not to mention a damn fine book!
3 reviews
February 23, 2008
I got a beaten up original copy from Goodwill for 10 cents, and have probably reread it 20 times in the past few years. This book must have been truly revolutionary when it was first published. Metalious manages to flesh out the town's entire population. The omniscient point of view gives a very realistic depiction of a town on the surface, and all the complicated, corrupt, hidden undercurrents. If you've ever read Salem's Lot, Stephen King wrote it as a supernatural version of Peyton Place.
Profile Image for Marta Cava.
143 reviews384 followers
July 21, 2022
Addictiva. És com un culebrot de sobretaula de TV3 però dels d'abans, dels ben fets i on totes famílies tenen tots secrets foscos i hi ha una important ràtio de males persones per metre quadrat en un poble que recorda a una barreja de Fargo i Twin Peaks (però que no són ni Fargo nu Twin Peaks)
Profile Image for Lee Anne.
814 reviews67 followers
August 17, 2018
Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay.

And with that opening line of purple prose, I knew I was in for it.

What a great, trashy book! As Stefon would say, "Summer's hottest read is Peyton Place. This book has everything: rape, murder, abortion, blue balls, virgins, tramps, suicide, drunk driving, dismemberment, cats on rope leashes, and that thing where you're so drunk that you put an axe in your foot."

This was the perfect late-summer read, and as always, I hope to find more mid-20th century popular fiction that is as entertaining as this. Suggestions appreciated.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,654 reviews273 followers
March 16, 2010
Coming in at #3 on the bestseller list for 1956, is this novel of what were considered scandalous doings in a small New England town. I was never allowed to read it while still living at home; once I was away from home I lost interest. I was only nine years old the year it was published and my mother did her best to keep me away from what she felt were inappropriate books (translation: sexual) during my preteen and teen years.

Well, the book does have the word pecker on the second or third page. It deals with premarital sex, illegitimate children, sexual abuse of young girls by fathers, abortion (!) and awakening of sexual desire in teenage girls. That is a lot of hot stuff for mainstream fiction in 1956. But Jackie Collins it is not. The writing is dense in an attempt at a literary style and the story moves slowly until well into the second half.

For its time though, it played a part in the opening up of the stodgy tone which fiction had taken on in the early 1950s, yet the writing still suffers from that influence. Peyton Place has been made into a movie twice: in 1957 with Lana Turner and in 1964 with Mia Farrow. I have never see either movie but think they would be worth watching. From 1964 to 1969 the story ran as a primetime TV drama serial in soap opera format; never saw those either. I imagine it was television which brought the term "Peyton Place" into well known American parlance, as in, "That neighborhood is a regular Peyton Place."

I was a junior in high school when the TV show started to run. Even then I would have had to sneak around to watch it, but by that time I had my own soap opera going on in real life.
Profile Image for Jessaka.
870 reviews105 followers
April 13, 2018
PEYTON PLACE by Grace Metalious

I believe I was 20 when this book was turned into a TV series that I just loved, and I am not sure when I began reading the book, but I liked it as well. When I was young I liked the idea of exposing the dirt in a town. Secrets. And this was supposed to be a expose on the people in her town, only the names were changed, but I am not sure anymore. I do know that it caused her a lot of problems back home, and I know that it was based on a murder that had actually happened back in the 40s. Then there was a lot of infidelity.

I loved Mia Farrow, and I recall how she cut her hair all off over some guy. Was it Frank Sinatra? Yes. I never heard about their marriage, but I can imagine. Then in later years, I recall how she was interested in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the TM guru but then ran out of the ashram when he changed his TM mantra from “Shri Shri Aing Aing Namah Namah” to “Om Shri Hanky Panky Namah.” Later the song, Sexy Sadie was supposed to have been written about this moment. Whether this was true or not, the Beatles left him sitting in the road in a yoga position chanting “No Namah Hanky Panky Sad Sadhu.”
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