This book was the Fifty Shades of Grey of the 1950s. Not to say that the book was necessary erotic, but it was similar in the fact that many housewives hid the book because they felt shameful reading it. Back in the 50s this book was banned in many places throughout the country. The author was made into an infamous celebrity based upon this book which dealt with sex, rape, alcoholism, domestic violence, incest, racism, extramarital affairs, and murder. To be honest, I had not heard of this book until just over a week ago. I blame this on my age. If anyone asks their mother if they have heard of this book, I can bet you they will say "that book caused an uproar" or "it was so scandalous." I felt as if I, a fanatic of literary fiction, HAD to read this book. I mean, this book topped the charts along with Gone With The Wind (another one of my ALL TIME favorite books) in its time!
Peyton Place, a tiny New England town, thrives on gossip. Everything that the inhabitants of this town do is based upon what will be said about them. A woman lies about her child born out of wedlock so that the town will think she is a widow; a mother says her son is a war hero when he is truly was discharged for a mental disorder; and a doctor keeps his mouth shut about child abuse to keep the victim feeling "normal." The town talks and talks about its people in the nastiest ways. Rumors are spread so quickly, not unlike today's small towns (believe me, I'm from a town of under 4,000), but the second an outsider says one negative word about a neighbor the town sticks up for him/her like they were a family member. What I thought was so interesting about this book, was that it was mostly the MEN that talked about everybody, rather than the women.
This story would not be considered shocking if it were published today. It is truly a fantastic novel, but today we are too used to novels with striking themes. As I researched this book, I learned that it will be apart of American pop culture for years to come. It sparked a movie and long running TV series. (I already have the movie coming from Netflix). The only part of the book that was lacking was more in depth character development. I would have enjoyed getting to know the characters more.