This is a book I read during my reading slump, probably around the beginning of February, and I didn’t even remember it until last night. That’s pretty pathetic, given that I loved it so much that I took it to work the very next day and handed it to a coworker, insisting she read it.
The main plot follows the lives of three women—lonely and repressed Constance MacKenzie; her illegitimate daughter Allison; and her employee Selena Cross, a girl from across the tracks, or as it is called in the book, “from the shacks.” The novel describes how they come to terms with their identity as women and sexual beings in a small New England town. Hypocrisy, social inequities and class privilege are recurring themes in a tale that includes incest, abortion, adultery, lust and murder. The term “Peyton Place” became a generic label for any community whose inhabitants have sordid secrets.
I rarely use any synopsis besides my own, let alone one from Wikipedia, but it has been too long, and I am afraid any synopsis I attempt will be sorely lacking. In fact, I am starting to believe I need to reread Peyton Place all together, which is embarrassing, given the fact that I only read it three months ago. I do remember how the salacious stories of a small Connecticut town in the 1950s were captivating to me. I loved the female characters that Metalious portrayed. Selena and Allison are so unflinchingly realistic, and I went back and forth between applauding them and loathing them.
I can’t urge readers enough to pick this one up. It was quite popular in its heyday, for good reason.
I received this book as a gift.