Friday night's celebration of the novel, Peyton Place, was a barn burner, with an overflow crowd of about 90 people showing up to celebrate the most famous book ever written in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. All the seats were filled. Some people were standing, others sitting on the floor and the workbench, and others lingering outside on the back patio, listening in. Wendy and Alan Berlind watches the proceedings while sitting in our circa 1850 sleigh. Along with his daughter, Thommie Dombrowski spectated from the precarious upstairs balcony of the barn. The vibe throughout was very Norman Rockwell, with numerous cragged New Englanders raising their hands to testify on (for instance) the time they had dinner with Peyton Place's author Grace Metalious and the time the clerk at the Gilmanton Corner Store refused to sell Grace a carton of eggs.
The star of the evening was Grace's daughter, Marsha Duprey, who began her presentation by holding up a news story about her mom's troubled rapport with Gilmanton. The headline read, "A Whole Town Hates This Woman." The clip was was out of date, however, and its message off key. Sixty years on, Gilmanton is proud to have been the home of Grace Metalious, and one attendee, Paula Gilman, who went to school with Grace's kids back in the fifties, drove this point home when she raised her hand to give Marsha a message: "We loved you guys then, and we still love you now."