Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ever hear of Grace Metalious?

She was the author of a 1956 novel that sold 60,000 copies within the first ten days of its release and remained on the New York Times best seller list for 59 weeks. It was adapted as both a 1957 film and a 1964–69 television series.

The novel was Peyton Place. I was fortunate today to be at a family reunion in Marshall, Missouri. The facility was a senior center that we rent every year. This year, it appeared the center was preparing for a book sale. Hundreds of books were piled on the front table, and I picked up one of them while waiting for our lunch to be served. I recognized the title, and began reading. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the writing. So vivid and descriptive, and using the perfect word choices in every sentence. It was golden. I loved it.

For your enjoyment, I have managed to locate the opening and pasted it below. Take a moment to read it. If you're a writer, this is an excellent example of how to draw a reader in.

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.
In Northern New England, Indian Summer puts up a scarlet-tipped hand to hold winter back for a while. She brings with her the time of the last warm spell, an uncharted season until Winter moves in with its backbone of ice and accouterments of leafless trees and hard, frozen ground.
Those grown old, who have had the youth bled from them by the jagged edged winds of winter, know sorrowfully that Indian Summer is a sham to be met with hard-eyed cynicism.
But the young wait anxiously, scanning the chill autumn skies for a hint of her coming. And sometimes the old, against all the warnings of better judgment, wait with the young and hopeful, their tired winter eyes looking heavenward to seek the first traces of a false softening.
The above material is from Peyton Place, copyright 1956 by Grace Metalious.


  1. What an amazing intro., truly inspiring. Thanks for posting Cornell!

  2. I always think of it as a sort of coming-of-age of the popular novel. So much hype had rarely been heard before. And yes, the writing is lyrical - buried amongst the sordid goings-on in small town America.

  3. That's writing that has broken the strings of prosaic, earthbound
    utterance and taken flight.

  4. Grace certainly has a way with words - lyrical and profound, she has a sixth sense when it comes to spinning a story. Thank you for sharing, Michael. BTW - I remember my mom had a copy of this by her bedside in the 60s! Man, I'm dating myself!


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