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Mérida writer’s 1st novel based on the life of infamous ‘Peyton Place’ author

'Peyton Place' broke records and launched careers. Its author's memory is kept alive in a novel written by local writer Dave O. Dodge.

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Grace Metalious, the novelist who wrote “Peyton Place,” and her husband, George, at home in 1956. Photo: Bettmann Archive

Dave O. Dodge’s first novel is an unauthorized backstory of famed writer and fellow New Hampshire native Grace Metalious.

“The Seasons of Grace” follows the life of Grace Metalious, who wrote four novels during her brief career. By far she is best known for her first book, “Peyton Place,” which became an international phenomenon when it was first published in 1956. She died eight years later at 39 after battling chronic liver disease following years of heay drinking.

“The Seasons of Grace” by Dave O. Dodge

Dodge is a veteran international travel writer and former public relations and charity guru, but this is his first time publishing a novel. He is best known in Mérida as the co-proprietor of Ochenta y Dos, an “urban bed and breakfast” that has hosted several elegant charity events on Calle 82.

Metalious’ book was dubbed “the first dirty book” and sold 12.5 million copies, with only the Bible selling more copies during the 1950s. The blockbuster was also on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year while at the same time being banned in numerous countries. It quickly surpassed “Gone With the Wind” as the best-selling novel of all-time.

She shrugged off critics who were shocked by her openness about sex. “If I’m a lousy writer then an awful lot of people have lousy taste,” she said, a quote that was worked into Dodge’s book cover.

Even today, the term “Peyton Place” is thought of as short-hand for a small-town’s lurid secrets and scandals. It inspired two film adaptations and network television’s first primetime soap, helping launch the careers of both Mia Farrow and Ryan O’Neal.

Dave O. Dodge, an American living in Mérida, Mexico, draws on his New Hampshire roots in writing about notorious mid-century author Grace Metalious 65 years after “Peyton Place” was published. Photo: Courtesy

Dodge’s book, which was released 65 years to the day “Peyton Place” was published, peels back the curtain with a fictional story inspired by her life and her desire to tell stories.

“Peyton Place” hit on previously unspeakable subjects like rape, murder, incest, abortion, promiscuity, and adultery, all which Dodge analyzes and delves deeply into throughout his book. Her life, like her writings, was a whirlwind that created havoc and controversy with every strike of the typewriter, as Dodge artfully puts it.

“Grace Metalious was a female writer who grew up in poverty in a small New England town and her novels were unprecedented for someone with her background during that period in American history,” says Dodge. “I wrote ‘The Seasons of Grace’ to bring deserved recognition to this legendary writer who changed the game for all female writers during her era.”

Dodge is a celebrated international freelance writer whose career has allowed him to travel around the world. At his core, he says, he bleeds New England blood.

His Yankee upbringing gave him the inspiration to write about the fellow New Englander, Dodge says.

“The Seasons of Grace” is available on Amazon and Kindle. More information: DaveODodge.com, Facebook and Instagram.

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