Tuesday, May 04, 2021


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? The Watergate Girl by Jill Wine-Banks. You may know her from MSNBC, where she was a legal analyst during Trump's first impeachment. It's a role she's uniquely qualified for, as she was a Watergate prosecutor.

She was a woman among men at the center of history. She had to be smart and talented to play a prominent role when so much was at stake. And yet, in the press, she was the pretty blonde lawyer. This is her memoir of her extraordinary life at this extraordinary time.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. What a hot mess this book is! Some of the characters are well drawn and believable. I liked some and disliked others, just as I would react to the denizens of any small town. I was involved and never bored.
But the plot! You have to go back to the Old Testament and Job to find suffering like 17-year-old Allison MacKenzie endured in 1939. In one day (spoiler alert!) she learns -- in a cruel and ugly way -- that she's illegitimate and her mother had been lying to her for her entire life. Naturally she runs upstairs crying and finds the family housekeeper had hung herself in Allison's closet with the belt from Allison's bathrobe. She has a breakdown and takes to bed. Understandable enough. But on Labor Day, on her first social day out, she sees her friend injured in a gruesome carnival accident. Then (yes, there's more) Allison is decimated on the witness stand during the civil trial after the accident. I mean really! All of this happens over the summer and fall. Frankly, I know some people who have gone their entire lives without this much drama!
Still, I developed a massive crush on old Doc Swain. If I was a spinster in Peyton Place, I'd be throwing myself at the good doctor like nobody's business. I genuinely admired Selena Cross, Allison's classmate who grew up to be a brave and clear-eyed woman.
So now I've read it and I'm glad. 65 years ago, when Peyton Place was first published, it was considered a dirty book. Today, it seems less about sex than class and toxicity of secrets. There's a reason why "Peyton Place" is still in the Urban Dictionary today, defined as "means a location or a group replete with gossip, secrets and double-crosses." This may not be a good book, but it's a powerful one.
3. What will read next? I don't know.