Through special arrangement with University Press of New England, Cornell University Press is pleased to offer a specially priced bundle of the Northeastern University Press Hardscrabble Books paperback edition of Peyton Place by Grace Metalious and the cloth edition of the new Cornell University Press book Unbuttoning America: A Biography of “Peyton Place” by Ardis Cameron. When purchased separately, Peyton Place and Unbuttoning America retail for $44.90. This limited-edition bundle may be purchased now for $29.95.
Contemporary readers of Peyton Place will be captivated by its vivid characters, earthy prose, and shocking incidents. Through her riveting, uninhibited narrative, Grace Metalious skillfully exposes the intricate social anatomy of a small community, examining the lives of its people—their passions and vices, their ambitions and defeats, their passivity or violence, their secret hopes and kindnesses, their cohesiveness and rigidity, their struggles, and often their courage. Ardis Cameron wrote the insightful introduction to the Hardscrabble Books edition of Peyton Place. In that introduction, she thoroughly examines the novel’s treatment of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and power, and considers the book’s influential place in American and New England literary history.
In Unbuttoning America, Cameron builds on the themes of her introduction to the novel. She mines extensive interviews, fan letters, and archival materials including contemporary cartoons and cover images from film posters and foreign editions to tell how the story of a patricide in a small New England village circulated over time and became a cultural phenomenon. She argues that Peyton Place, with its frank discussions of poverty, sexuality, class and ethnic discrimination, and small-town hypocrisy, was more than a tawdry potboiler. Metalious’s depiction of how her three central female characters come to terms with their identity as women and sexual beings anticipated second-wave feminism. More broadly, Cameron asserts, the novel was also part of a larger postwar struggle over belonging and recognition. Fictionalizing contemporary realities, Metalious pushed to the surface the hidden talk and secret rebellions of a generation no longer willing to ignore the disparities and domestic constraints of Cold War America.