Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
Published in the 1950s, Peyton Place was one of the first books to 'lift the lid' on suburbia and pop the skeletons of ordinary closets one by one. It hit a bit too close to home for lots of readers at the time and became very controversial - no one wanted to admit that their small towns were anything less than perfect.
The story centres around three women. Constance Mackenzie had a child without getting married first and has spent her whole life trying to hide this from her neighbours. Selena Cross is trying to make something of herself but is hampered by being from the wrong part of town and having a cruel step-father. Allison Mackenzie wants to write but feels suffocated by her environment. In the course of the novel there is murder, rape, incest, abortion and lots of other things that have made many write the book off as trashy or sensationalist.
And the book is trashy, but in the best possible way. It's trashy in the I-can't-wait-to-see-what-happens-next kind of way. The whole book is written with a brutal honesty, and there's a lot to be said for that kind of writing. There's also a lot of stuff on women's rights that can be contradictory at times - one of the women has to get raped before experiencing sexual pleasure (which doesn't seem very forward thinking to me) but there's also arguments about sexual freedom and the freedom to pursue a career away from men.
If you've read this book, let me know what you thought of it. If you haven't, put it on your wishlist straight away!
Score: 5 out of 5