Where Auburn Comes Together!
And today, Thursday, Sept. 8, during Banned Book Month, we celebrate the controversial and difficult life of one of the highest profile writers to hail from our area, Marie Grace DeRepentigny, known famously as Grace Metalious.
Born into poverty and a broken home in Manchester, Grace attended Central High School and married George Metalious before the couple moved to Gilmanton, where George was a teacher.
It was from Gilmanton, in September 1956, that Grace launched one of the most best selling and infamous books in publishing history, “Peyton Place.”
The story is set in fictional Peyton, but based on Gilmanton and Laconia, and tells the story of three woman forced to come to terms with their own professional and sexual identities while living in a stifling, gossipy small town.
Critics immediately dismissed or panned the book, which was even banned in some cities after being declared indecent.
The Manchester Union-Leader wrote that the book was symbolic of a “complete debasement of taste.” A sign in front of a library in Beverly Farms, Mass., read: “This library does not carry `Peyton Place.’ If you want it, go to Salem.”
But readers did very much want it. The book sold 60,000 copies in the first 10 days and it remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year.
Grace’s instant fame and wealth proved her downfall. After several high profile relationships and scandals, Grace died at 39 in 1964 of liver disease.
To this day, “Peyton Place” continues to be fodder for soap operas, movies and shows in popular culture.
Grace Metalious, who said, “If I’m a lousy writer, then an awful lot of people have lousy taste.”