The residents of Peyton Place, Mass., are not happy when its most famous resident, Alison Mackenzie...
Suburban Dysfunction, Small-Town Life, Mothers and Sons, Haunted By the Past
At the beginning of the film, Allison receives a phone call from Lewis, who shows interest in publishing her book and promises to turn her into a household name whose books are exclusively bestsellers. Allison is ecstatic after hearing the news, unlike her best friend Selena Cross, who is still receiving a lot of criticism from the townspeople for her shameful past. Among these people are Mrs. Roberta Carter, an old-fashioned, domineering woman who is unamused her son Ted has had a close bond with Selena. Later that day, Mrs. Carter is visited by her son, who currently lives in Boston. Ted shocks her with the information of having married an Italian fashion model, Raffaella. Mrs. Carter looks down on Raffaella and contacts Selena to drive them apart, but Selena looks through the scheme and refuses to cooperate. She angrily leaves and is involved in a car accident. Young ski instructor Nils Larsen helps her out, and although she treats him coldly, she feels attracted to him.
Meanwhile, Constance reluctantly allows her daughter to visit New York for a meeting with Lewis. Allison is unamused to find out Lewis wants to make several changes in the book, but agrees on cooperating. Constance calls her the next morning and is worried to find out Allison and Lewis have been working all night long, expecting the worst. Back in Peyton Place, Raffaella threatens to ban Mrs. Carter out of Ted's life if she continues to treat her horribly. Raffaella and Ted go skiing later that day and Ted is surprised to see Selena with Nils, who Selena finally agreed on dating after bumping into him several times.
The following weeks, Allison spends her time promoting her book, doing interviews for talk shows and radio programs. She is slowly turned into a celebrity, and flirts with Lewis along the way. She is angry to find out Lewis is married, but after she is awarded the first copy of her book, she nevertheless kisses him. The book soon becomes a commercial success due to its meaty contents, but it is heavily criticized by the townspeople of Peyton Place. Constance is disappointed in Allison for allowing the many changes that have been made in the editing room. Selena is disgusted by the way she is portrayed and loses her mind, knocking Nils down with a stoker, mistaking him for her abuser Lucas.
Meanwhile, Mike Rossi, principal of the local high school, husband of Constance and only defender of Allison's book, risks being discharged by the school board, of which Mrs. Carker is its head, for refusing to remove Allison's book from the school library. At the Carter home, Ted confronts Raffaella with her quarrel with his mother. Raffaella, realizing Ted will never stand up against his mother, reveals she is pregnant, before angrily leaving her husband. Determined to exterminating her pregnancy, she purposely causes a skiing accident.
When Allison finds out Mike has been fired, she finally decides to face the wrath of its residents, who are still incensed by their barely-disguised counterparts and the revelation of town secrets in the book. She is immediately confronted by her mother for having sold her decency and self-respect for success and money. Despite the quarrel with her mother, Allison decides to support Mike, who has taken his dischargment to the town hall. Among the people defending Mike are Lewis, Nils and Ted. Nils points out that the bigoted townspeople have driven away Selena, who is nowhere to be found, and reveals his plans on marrying Selena. Selena shows up not much later and blames the townspeople for making her feel ashamed, before thanking Allison for having written the truth. In the end, Roberta is denounced and Mike is given his job back when Constance publicly says that the older towsnpeople have been leading the lives of their children too long. Afterwards, Allison has finally become an adult and breaks her affair with Lewis, explaining she does not want to ruin his marriage.