Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious

Story of a small New England town and some of its characters around the start of WW2. The book focuses primarily on three women, but has a larger cast who become familiar as the book progresses: many of the themes are fairly salacious and the book was banned in some places when it first appeared.

I had heard of the book/film/tv series and assumed it was probably not worth reading but was lulled into buying it when it was on special offer at the bookstore "the notorious best-seller". What a sucker. But wait, it's actually pretty good. Very readable actually. In fact I got through all 500-odd pages of it in about three days. Yes, it is a little bit soapy, but the characters are well drawn and you do root for them. Yes the themes are a bit racy, but they feel very believable and justified in the context of the story.

The most (in)famous story in the book relates to Selena Cross, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, who is raped by her step-father and becomes pregnant by him. But there's lots more in the book about teenage love, small-town politics, secret affairs, kind-hearted teachers, and friendships made and broken. Maybe it is a bit of a soap-opera, but it's involving and great fun to read.

The book made me think of The Woman's Room - another book that was quite influential and somewhat shocking in its day, but readable and impressive. But unlike that book, I think that this would bear re-reading: I remember being knocked out by TWR, but being unable to finish it when I tried to read it again. I think Peyton Place would be worth coming back to.

Completed : 10-May-2007

[nickoh] [2007 books] [books homepage]