Slowly I was becoming aware of the wider world around me. I knew there were two men called Ike and Mr K squabbling over something called The Berlin Wall—I assumed they meant the same place where Hitler did his dirty work and pictured the two baldy-headed men peeking over the top of the brickwork, hurling abuse at each other.
The British were exploding atom bombs in Central Australia, something that made us all feel very proud and important.
Indian Summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickly, 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.
It is amazing to believe that anyone could have been shocked by any part of Peyton Place, but such was the world in 1959 when the novel blew the lid off all sorts of things that had been simmering. Grace Metalious was accused of being every kind of fallen woman and a lousy writer to boot and she laughed all the way to the bank. The ugly duckling housewife from New Hampshire let them have it right between the thighs, and everything seemed to change, all manner of assumptions were challenged, as a result. It was the publishing industry that she changed mostly, and probably for the worse.
The story tells of how the town drunk has been beating and raping his daughter since she was a child and everyone in Peyton Place knows it and no one does anything about it. Eventually, the girl grows up to be big and strong enough to bump the old bugger off. But when she is put on trial for murder, no one will speak in her defence because that would be to admit what they knew and ignored. Pretty strong stuff in any age.
Actually, it isn’t a bad book in any way. When I read it as a thirteen-year old, I was not one little bit shocked or surprised by any of it, and I had a pretty naive upbringing. I enjoyed it, good characters, easy reading, and felt not the slightest guilt. Indeed, I wondered just exactly what all the fuss was about. And what it was about was marketing, and the puritanical stiff necks getting sucked in. Good one, Grace—the Pandora in blue jeans, as they called her. A well deserved place in history, if not in literature.