Peyton Place

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In 1956, a woman from middle class Manchester, New Hampshire wrote a book that shocked the nation. At 32 years old, Grace Metalious wrote the blockbuster novel Peyton Place. It transformed the publishing industry and made the author one of the most talked about people in the nation. Metalious wrote about incest, abortion, sex, rape, adultery, repression, lust, and the secrets of small town New England, things that were never discussed before in conservative America. She interpreted incest, wife beating, and poverty as social failures instead of individual flops. When Metalious published Peyton Place, the country was in the grasp of a new wave of sexual panic. The book turned the "private" into the "political." The avant-garde disturbed the country and critics called the book "wicked," "sordid," and "cheap." Canada declared it indecent and made the importation of the book illegal. Parts of Rhode Island, Indiana, and Nebraska followed suit arguing that the book would corrupt young minds. Wealthy communities banished Peyton Place. To read Peyton Place was to read it in secret and were sometimes discussed only among the closest of friends. Everyone was reading it - college and high school students, college graduates, mothers, wives, and even husbands and fathers. In 1956, a sexual act such as sodomy, oral sex, and intercourse with another married person in most states was illegal. Also, abortion was illegal, and birth control was unreliable and in many cases, difficult to find. To many critics, Metalious' book was not scandalous because of its case in point, but because of the sexual pleasures that were received and given by the female characters. Peyton Place begins with Indian summer in 1939. It takes place in a very descriptive, postcardesque New England town. The main story focuses on three women characters and their underlying search for their identities as sexual women in small town America. Allison Mackenzie is the bastard daughter of Constance...
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