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Old 12-27-2019, 06:04 PM   #63
issybird
o saeclum infacetum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
Among the books I considered are these.

Unbuttoning America: A Biography of Peyton Place by Ardis Cameron. I really wanted to nominate this, but in some countries only the audiobook is available, and even where the ebook is available, it's expensive, so I reluctantly passed on it.
Spoiler:
Published in 1956, Peyton Place became a bestseller and a literary phenomenon. A lurid and gripping story of murder, incest, female desire, and social injustice, it was consumed as avidly by readers as it was condemned by critics and the clergy. Its author, Grace Metalious, a housewife who grew up in poverty in a New Hampshire mill town and had aspired to be a writer from childhood, loosely based the novel’s setting, characters, and incidents on real-life places, people, and events. The novel sold more than 30 million copies in hardcover and paperback, and it was adapted into a hit Hollywood film in 1957 and a popular television series that aired from 1964 to 1969. More than half a century later, the term “Peyton Place” is still in circulation as a code for a community harboring sordid secrets.

In Unbuttoning America, Ardis Cameron 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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I nominate Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux (2018, 286 pp.).

I think this would make for an interesting discussion, as Little Women is so familiar--all of us have probably read the book or seen a movie/TV adaptation or at least know the basic story, giving everyone a solid frame of reference for the author's arguments.
I've just finished both of these and I thought both were well worth reading, so two thumbs up. They also made for an interesting juxtaposition; lives of women in New England and the frustrations and limitations imposed on them almost a century apart.

The Peyton Place book was something of a mixed bag, as I thought it resorted to too much jargon in its literary and sociological commentary which made for tough listening. I'm also not entirely convinced that Peyton Place isn't just the trashy page-turner I always thought it, but I'm at least partially persuaded that there's more depth to it and says more about women's lives than I thought. I also found the description of mid-20th century life in New Hampshire fascinating.

And I think I'm on a Little Women kick, as I've also just finished reading this year's book about it, March Sisters. I liked Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy quite a lot; the analysis of LMA's life and the importance of LW was penetrating, although I think perhaps too much time was spent discussing various adaptations which was ultimately not that illuminating. Clearly I need to see the latest film.
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