Grace Metallious, the author of Peyton Place, a revolutionary novel about sex and secrets in small town America, inspired Annie Barnes to leave Middle River, the tight knit community that believes itself to have been Grace's model, and pursue a career as an author. Now, Annie's success has allowed her to distance herself from the world she left behind -- and from her family, who are still smarting from their decades-old associations with Grace's Peyton Place. But after her mother dies under circumstances Annie can't help questioning, Annie returns to her home in New Hampshire to search for answers. When she discovers evidence of dangerous pollutants emanating from the localpaper mill -- poisons she suspects contributed to her mother's fatal illness -- Annie finds herself butting heads with many of the town's inhabitants -- including her sisters, who are strangely apathetic about the incriminating evidence Annie discovers. All the while, Annie must war with the memory of Grace Metalious -- and the realization that not much has changed in small-town life since Grace wrote her groundbreaking book.