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Saturday, January 18, 2014


Like most authors, I would love for my book to make a best seller list. How to do that? Is it the story? Most certainly. Is it the writing? Most definitely. Is it luck and our readers? Most probably. Truth is it's all those things that contribute to putting our hard work on a New York Times or USA Today best seller list.

The following is a post about an unassuming but determined writer who made that coveted list her first time out. In researching articles for this post, I did find that Grace Metalious never had a particularly happy life and went downhill after her success in the publishing world.

Grace Metalious, nee Marie Grace DeRepentigny, born September 8, 1924, was a best selling author whose first book, Peyton Place, stayed on the New York Times best seller list for fifty-nine weeks. It sold twenty million hardcover copies and twelve million in Dell paperbacks.

She started from humble beginnings and wrote from an early age. After graduation, she married her husband, George, but continued to write after becoming a housewife and mother. Grace was thirty in 1954 when she began work on her manuscript about the dark secrets of a small New England town. She gave her novel or WIP (work in progress) the working title of, The Tree and the Blossom. It wasn't long before she realized her book needed a fictional town and after much deliberation with her husband, Peyton Place was born.

Peyton Place was published September 24, 1956. It was reviled by the clergy and dismissed by most critics, nevertheless, it remained on the New York Times best seller list for over a year and became an international phenomenon. Commenting on her critics, she observed, "If I'm a lousy writer, then an awful lot of people have lousy taste", and as to the frankness of her work, she stated, "Even Tom sawyer had a girlfriend, and to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass."

As a young teenager, I remember finding an innocuous little paperback book stuck behind other books in my parent's bookcase headboard. It was quite an educational read that summer and I suspect I wasn't alone in my secret reading. Grace Metalious died September 25, 1964 of cirrhosis of the liver from heavy drinking at the age of thirty-nine.While her life and success burned out quickly, she has the distinction of penning a publishing phenomenon.

Thanks for stopping by,

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  1. Peyton Place was probably one of the first "dirty" books I ever read. Oh, gosh, I loved it. Fifty years later, I'm not sure if I loved the book as much as I did getting one over on my mom, but I do know I still remember most of the characters' names...

    1. I agree with you, Liz. I mostly remember the characters through the movie with Lana Turner and Diane Varsi. I have bought the book for my Kindle and intend to read it again. Thank you for commenting!

  2. Very interesting post! I had no idea the life of this author. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Good morning, Karren. I didn't know of her either and felt sad for her after research. Glad to see you here!

  3. Hi, Carra. Great post about a fascinating woman. Metalious was incinerated by critics, but the reading public loved her. Apparently, she was everyone's guilty pleasure. To her critics, she's remembered for saying, "If I'm a lousy writer, then an awful lot of people have lousy taste."

    Peyton Place also spawned a TV series in the 60's that the older ladies in my family loved. That TV series created the careers of Ryan O'Neal, Marietta Hartley, and Mia Farrow. It was hugely popular.

    Metalious never hesitated to write about sex. Romance authors who write about sex probably owe her a debt of gratitude. She said, "Even Tom Sawyer had a girlfriend and to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass."

  4. Thanks, Joan. I'm happy you stopped by!

  5. I never read the book, but I remember girls passing it around in theater class for others to read the racy parts. I was such a nerd, I was busy reading Mary Stewart or Georgette Heyer or Erle Stanley Gardner. I hadn't realized Grace died so young or had such a sad life.


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