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The juicy biography of the scandalous novelist who lifted the lid off a New England town Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay...So begins Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (1924-1964). In September, 1956, it burst onto the American scene as the most controversial novel of the century. Its publication was also an extraordinary story of personal triumph. Grace Metalious, an unpretentious housewife from the wrong side of the tracks, had written an explosive bestseller. From a ramshackle cottage in a small New England milltown, she zoomed to national stardom. She met movie stars, famous writers, and the hangers-on who gravitate to those who achieve sudden wealth. She partied with the glamorous; she traveled; always a generous friend, she entertained lavishly. It was a Cinderella dream. But it did not last. Grace refused to be confined by the fifties' notions of a woman's place. In her struggle to find herself, she lifted the lid off sex and violence, power and powerlessness, truth and hypocrisy, and became known as the Pandora in Blue Jeans. "If I'm a lousy writer," she said, "then an awful lot of people have got lousy taste." Reporters could not resist the story: A wife and mother of three had written this sensational expose. Her own affairs, her personal excesses, her outspokenness, continually shocked and fascinated America. Emily Toth has given us a complete and sympathetic portrait of Grace: the idealistic young scribbler, the partier, the sometimes reluctant wife and mother. Tracing the television shows, the films, the Peyton Place sequels and later novels, Toth shows Grace plagued by periods of self-doubt and loneliness, striving desperately and feeling pressured to create another "hit." Grace Metalious's life is the material modern novels are made of. Inside Peyton Place is the story of a woman out of step with her times, a poignant tale of a strong yet vulnerable individual who dreamed of having everything -- and then unfortunately found it. Emily Toth, a professor of English and Women's Studies at Louisiana State University, is the author or editor of ten books, including Unveiling Kate Chopin (University Press of Mississippi) and Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781578062683
ISBN-10: 1578062683
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 31mm)
Pages: 277
Imprint: University Press of Mississippi
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publish Date: 30-Apr-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » An overblown biography of the "Pandora in blue jeans" who wrote Peyton Place, featuring clumsy attempts to present Metalious as a feminist hero/victim. Born into a working-class, part-French-Canadian family and raised in industrial Manchester, N.H., through the Depression, un-beautiful Grace DeRepentigny grew up with a literary, creative bent but also with an absent father (divorce) and heavy conditioning in the "feminine mystique" (Toth quotes frequently from Betty Friedan). So, though she wrote compulsively in secret, she wound up as the teenage bride of classmate George Metalious, soon the mother of three. And while George went to college after the war, unconventional loner Grace kept writing - "but for a woman to have such a purpose in the early fifties was very odd, if not un-American, subversive, even Communist." Still, Grace persisted, and - thanks to two savvy women (a reader and publisher Kitty Messner) - Peyton Place suddenly brought the late-'50s "party years". . . when Grace married her manager/lover Carl, sampled Hollywood, and became a talk-show guest. From then on, however, it was mostly downhill: writing difficulties, alcoholism, a second divorce, money troubles (a shady agent) - virtually all of which Toth unpersuasively attributes to the conflict between creativity and femininity. Nor does the characterization of Peyton Place as a "feminist book" hold up; and, throughout, Toth seems to ignore the existence of all those other bestselling women writers in her efforts to make Metalious' rise and fall a generalized feminist tragedy. Still, nostalgic Peyton Place fans may be interested in the details here on the editing process - how the "less sexy, less commercial, and more idealistic" original was subtly transformed. And some of the PR/media miniutiae may interest historians of publishing hype. Mostly, however, a strained exercise with drab particulars. (Kirkus Reviews)


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