You know that moment when you read a previously banned book, and you’re all, “What? Wait, why? Ugh, this is so boring!” and you throw it across the room because you thought it would be sexier but there was just, like, an abortion or some racial slurs? Peyton Place is not like that.
For instance, here is how the new Greek principal* is described shortly after his arrival in town:
Tomas Makris was a massively boned man with muscles that seemed to quiver every time he moved… the buttons of his work shirts always seemed about to pop off under the strain of trying to cover his chest… a handsome man, in a dark-skinned, black-haired, obviously sexual way.
And no, I did not cheat by compiling descriptions scattered throughout the book. That’s from the course of two paragraphs on page 100. Anyway, it should come as no surprise that a he-man like that, whose lips are “full without being loose,” rapes the town’s hottie widow, Constance. But it’s totally cool, because she’s frigid. It’s for her own good! But the best part of it is how he starts:
“Untie the top of your bathing suit,” he said harshly. “I want to feel your breasts against me when I kiss you.”
She swears she’ll have him arrested for rape after he carries her kicking and screaming to her bed, but he isn’t worried. A “stunning blow across the mouth with the back of his hand” quiets her down, until she feels the “first red gush of shamed pleasure.”
Reading this particular one on the subway makes me feel like a girl in the steno pool in the 1954, almost missing my subway stop and reading it hungrily at the Automat. Did you know how dirty this one was? I had no idea.
*I’m reading an original edition, which is why the Greek is still named Tomas Makris… the name of an actual employee at the school where author Grace Metalious’ husband worked, who also shared the physical attributes of his novelized self. Can you imagine being a housewife going to parent-teacher night with that bull? Mercy! Anyway, the teacher wasn’t happy about seeing his name in print, and since Metalious forged his name on a consent form, he was renamed for later editions.