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Peyton Place

(Peyton Place #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  11,504 ratings  ·  1,123 reviews
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-e ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 4th 1999 by Northeastern University Press (first published 1956)
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Aida You need to put yourself into the time frame which the book was published (1956), before the sexual revolution, before birth control or having sex bef…moreYou need to put yourself into the time frame which the book was published (1956), before the sexual revolution, before birth control or having sex before marriage. Child abuse/sexual abuse was a hidden concept, not published or litigated openly to the public. (less)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  11,504 ratings  ·  1,123 reviews

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Aug 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“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 o ...more
Mar 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: doneanddone
... 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. ...more
Paul Bryant
Jul 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
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
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 mai
Tiny Pants
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 though ...more
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.
Michael Borowski
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 sugge
Carla Remy
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Judy Vanderhule
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
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 boo ...more
Elyse Walters
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
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!
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 int ...more
Joanne Renaud
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it

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
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
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 c
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
Jan 20, 2022 rated it really liked it
Thoughts soon.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, book-club
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, ...more
Misha Crews
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: small-town-dark
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
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Lee Anne
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 w
Sep 29, 2015 rated it liked it
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 hap
Aug 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Was quite an education when I first read this at 11. But in my college-influenced high literature phase of reading, I began to classify this book as trash. Revisiting it today, am struck by what an eminantly readable book this is - the pace of storytelling is relentlessly fast-paced, the characters connect, thought-provoking themes like female sexuality, (apparently boldly for 50s audiences), rape, teenage pregnancies and abortion (illegal in 50s America) are all explored, there is never a dull ...more
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I like this book very much. Grace Metalious was way ahead of her time when she wrote Peyton Place. I felt I was reading a contemporary novel not a work of fiction written during the 1950's. I can see why society at that time was not ready for this book. Peyton Place revealed too much. All of the evils of society normally swept under the rug are confronted in this important book. Metalious was a woman of remarkable courage and insight. I think this book has been mislabeled and not seen for the fi ...more
Wow-I know I read this many years ago & parts of it felt like I had just read it last week & other parts I had no recollection of at all....this must have been sizzling hot when it came out!!!
I felt a little bit To Kill A Mockingbird, a little of A tree Grows In Brooklyn, some Valley Of The Dolls & a little wee bit of Owen Meany....a very well written story, the descriptions of New England & small town life felt spot on to me....& I loved the character development.....

You can tell was written pr
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
I read this book the first time at about 16 and was blown away. Now rereading it as an adult I find many problems with it. I'm sure very few will agree, but while it was interesting I couldn't find much sympathy for most of the characters. And (probably related to that) was rather emotionally untouched by this book. (For contrast I cried at the movie Up- within the first 5 minutes.) I felt as though ants were being smashed. It was a parade of the grotesque. Tragedy after tragedy with surprisingl ...more
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like many of you I was introduced to PEYTON PLACE...
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Read for the Litsy readalong. I can see why my mom and grandma were scandalized! 😱
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.
I had it as an audiobook, and I did find the narrator a little bit difficult to understand at times, but I choose to not detract a star from that since it wasn't Grace Metalious doing the narrating.

Peyton place is a small and conservative town, and a lot of things happen in this town, where you pretty much feel like you're in a soap opera. I can totally see why it was made into a series (or a film). There is three main characters, who we follow along the way. It follo
Apr 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I had never read this novel, even though for my entire life its title has stood in as reference to a place where gossip runs wild and nobody is safe from it. I guess that pretty much sums it up. The book seems to have aged pretty well—removal of the dated language, including racist and misogynistic comments, would probably clean it up way too nice. And I don’t think the novel was meant to be nice. The author pulls back the curtains on the windows into the lives of the people of her fictional an ...more
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Bibliophiles Anon...: Peyton Place Main Discussion 2 12 Sep 30, 2016 12:23PM  
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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 housew

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