When you grow up and have your own home, you can do what you want.
Show of hands. How many of you heard the above pearls of wisdom when you were growing up? I know I did. And when I finally did have my own home, I took full advantage of my newfound independence.
And so it was with my reading choices. For some reason, I never forgot the titles that were deemed inappropriate for teen reading eyes — and read them all. And I never blushed once.
Written in 1944 by Kathleen Winsor, Forever Amber was banned as pornographic in 14 states. The novel tells the story of Amber St. Clare, who conquests her way up 17th century British aristocracy ladder by sleeping with progressively influential men.
In 1956, Grace Metalious wrote Peyton Place, a novel that would sell 10,000 copies in the first 10 days of its release. It was followed in 1957 by a motion picture and in 1964 by a prime time soap opera on television. Set in a New England town, the novel focuses on small town gossip, hypocrisy, teenage rebellion, class inequity — and a few other social maladies.
A Summer Place was published in 1958 and written by Sloan Wilson. The title was released as a major motion picture fim in 1959 starring Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee. The story tells the tale of two adults who rekindle their teenage summer romance. Their children from other spouses fall in love, with unplanned and unfortunate consequences.
All three titles were published long before I learned to read. But they were popular and considered racy for many years following their releases. In my opinion, and the opinion of many reviewers more qualified than me, the three are not great works of literary fiction. But the titles are excellent examples of the taboos of social life during different historic time periods and offer a guaranteed, entertaining reading escape.
All opinions and reviews aside, it felt rewarding to open the Pandora’s Box and finally have the choice and the freedom to read Forever Amber, Peyton Place, and A Summer Place.