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EST 1797 in Pittsford, VT.

New and Featured Books

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

Heres an unexpected publication: a new edition, complete with scholarly introduction, of the 1956 succs de scandale that was in its time the single bestselling American novel, inspiring both a nighttime “television novel” (i.e., soap opera) and an only slightly less soapy (1958) feature film. Metalious (192464) was a competent writer with some flair whose punchy workmanlike prose efficiently captured her little inland New England hamlet’s earthy (if somewhat unbelievably sexually functional) populace. The charactersamong others, Allison MacKenzie, round-heeled Betty Anderson, m.c.p. Rodney Harrington, and longsuffering Selena Crossretain a perversely appealing, pulpy vitality. But scholar Ardis Cameron’s assertion that this likeably trashy novel offers a valuable corrective to the myth of quiescent domesticity and class consensus,” besides gilding the lily indefensibly, confuses its author with Sinclair Lewis, not to mention Gustave Flaubert. Peyton Place is, on its own terms, both a perfectly decent popular novel and an honest one. But it never was an important one, and no amount of retroactive puffery can make it so.

Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

When Grace Metalious’s debut novel about the dark underside of a small, respectable New England town was published in 1956, it quickly soared to the top of the bestseller lists. A landmark in twentieth-century American popular culture, Peyton Place spawned a successful feature film and a long-running television series-the first prime-time soap opera.

Contemporary readers of Peyton Place will be captivated by its vivid characters, earthy prose, and shocking incidents. Through her riveting, uninhibited narrative, Metalious skillfully exposes the intricate social anatomy of a small community, examining the lives of its people – their passions and vices, their ambitions and defeats, their passivity or violence, their secret hopes and kindnesses, their cohesiveness and rigidity, their struggles, and often their courage.

This new paperback edition of Peyton Place features an insightful introduction by Ardis Cameron that thoroughly examines the novel’s treatment of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and power, and considers the book’s influential place in American and New England literary history. Amazon.com