Archive for May, 2016


Pandora in Blue Jeans

I love this picture. Grace Metalious posing for Larry Smith, photographer at the Lanconia Citizen. It appears on the back cover of her 1956 debut novel, Peyton Place, along with the blurb:

Grace Metalious is the most surprising new novelist of the year.  In  PEYTON PLACE  this Pandora  in  blue  jeans  lifts the lid off a small New England village, in the most explosive novel since KINGS ROW.

I suppose those are the proofs in the picture.  I wonder if she actually wrote at that tiny table in such an uncomfortable position.  But I strongly suspect the ashtray and cigarette are real.

So this (dare I say iconic?) picture of the small town girl turned best-selling author has floated through time in various incarnations.  First and most valid is this image of Allison MacKenzie, played by Diane Varsi, in the 1957 movie.

diane varsi as alison mackenzie

Diane Varsi as Allison MacKenzie, 1957

Clearly Allison lives in a higher rent district than her prototype, and she writes in the living room instead of the kitchen, the table is fancier but smaller and there’s no ashtray in sight. She looks just as uncomfortable.

The movie, by the way, scrubbed up a lot of the events and characters as they were portrayed in the book. Worst job was on the Harringtons, father and son team of slimeballs. Leslie Harrington goes from controlling, conniving town boss to benevolent mill owner, and his complete-waste-of-skin son Rodney, instead of being every mother’s worst nightmare, who dies with his girlfriend in a drunken driving crash, is a decent guy who is killed in WWII and lauded as a war hero. Go figure.

girl on the bestseller list


Our next Pandora incarnation is The Girl on the Bestseller List, 1960, by Vin Packer.  The ashtray is back, the table is even smaller and she looks just as uncomfortable as her predecessors in her Room of One’s Own.

From what I found at Goodreads, it’s a crime story centred around Gloria Wealdon, who writes a novel based on the people in her small town.  Hmmm.

Vin Packer is actually Marijane Meaker, who has written a ton of books under a variety of pseudonyms. Vin Packer was her crime novel persona.




Laura Rider's Masterpiece

Decades pass

In 2009, Jane Hamilton, who should know better, writes Laura Rider’s Masterpiece, a fairly silly tale about a woman who engineers her husband’s affair with another woman. Yawn.

But wait, look at the cover….

Yes, it’s Grace alias Allison alias Gloria. Now she’s become Laura Rider. Yet another Pandora in Blue Jeans.

But….what about her friends? Where did they come from?

I’ll tell you.  They came from Louisiana.






In 1956, the year Grace Metalious hit the big time with Peyton Place, Jack Woodford and John B. Thompson wrote Sugar Doll.

They look like nice people, though, don’t they?





Pandora in Blue Jeans bobble head doll








Pandora in Blue Jeans just lives on and on.  How about  a bobblehead doll from the New Hampshire Historical Society.

No manuscript, but there’s the ashtray.  Only one cigarette.  I guess she’s trying to cut down.


me, strangely like Grace








Several years ago, a friend snapped a picture of me at the cottage, working at my laptop.

I know, I know.  But I swear the plaid shirt and jeans and pose are just me. I didn’t notice the resemblance until just recently.

There’s no ashtray.








So now this brings us to Pandora’s final incarnation.  As I said, I love the Pandora in Blue Jeans image. So much so, that I recreated it in miniature.

Here is Grace in 1 inch scale.

Pandora in Blue Jeans_06-a_1

Pandora in Blue Jeans_04-adj_1

Hope you enjoy the many incarnations of Pandora.

For more about this guilty pleasure, take a look at mystery writer Susan Van Kirk’s blog posting.

Or just pick up a copy and lose yourself in the world of Peyton Place.


As for me and miniatures, check out my Mysteries in Miniature.


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