Girl Detective

January 10, 2012

Most of us have memories of our first love affair with reading.  My earliest memory of a book I couldn’t put down was for a children’s story called Blueberries for Sal. This book is about a girl, clearly with food issues, who causes her parent a heap of trouble.   The tale is an adventure with wonderful illustrations, and it primed my appetite for what was to become an obsessive reading habit manifesting itself in another character who found trouble. That reading addiction took root one Christmas when my mother surprised me with my first Nancy Drew book.  It was actually the second in the series and is called The Hidden Staircase. Because of that book, I developed a habit of reading in the bathtub until the water was cold and my toes were a bouquet of prunes.  Nancy was the perfect role model for my ten year old self.  She was well groomed, displayed impeccable integrity and taste, cultivated loyal friendships, was fiercely independent and always caught the bad guys.  And she only drove her car as “fast as the law would allow.” Even without a mother in her life, Nancy seemed to forge ahead with a flawless step, often laughing at herself.  Ha ha ha!  I wanted to know Nancy Drew.  Truthfully, I wanted to be Nancy Drew.  Because of all these warm, fuzzy memories, I recently became a part of a small book club in my neighborhood.   Serving as the foundation of this literary salon is me of course, and three other pre-teen girls who live on my street.  The four of us have become The Neighborhood Book Club and we only read Nancy Drew books.  Sounds sweet doesn’t it?  But wait.  Reading Nancy Drew as an adult is different than reading it as a ten year old.  As an adult, I see Nancy as, well…..not quite so perfect.  For starters, this is why.  In the very first book, in the very first paragraph we learn that eighteen year old Nancy is driving her brand new blue convertible that was a gift from her widowed father (guilt, compensation).  It had to be a gift because you see, Nancy has no job.  Nor is she in school.  But ok.  I can accept that, for the books were written in the 1930s when ladies of a certain caste did not work outside of the home.  She then proceeds to drive the car through a rainstorm with the top down so as to drench her “yellow sunback dress, jacket and gloves”.  Can you imagine?  You drive a brand new convertible through a rainstorm with the top down and your big concern is your outfit ?  Seems a little bratty to me, but that is just me. Stay with me on this.  In her defense, she does generally display the essence of Robin Hood, moving into falling down houses with perfect strangers in order to help them get their just rewards, but still.  She regularly wanders in to judge’s chambers, police chief’s quarters and lawyers offices unannounced and is granted audience simply because she is Carson (great name) Drew’s daughter (nepotism at its best).  And maybe this is nothing.  Maybe it is just me, but in book #2, at one point Nancy (in the middle of an investigation) exclaims to her friends that she “got banged pretty good.”  Ok.  Semantics I am sure.  Whatever Nancy, but really shouldn’t some things just go unsaid.   She is consistently putting herself and her friends Helen, Bess and George (yes, a girl-don’t get me started) in harm’s way in order to chase some phantom thief. Then she laughs about it! Not exactly the picture of stability if you ask me.  And another thing, not that it should matter, but in the early books Nancy is described as blonde.  In the later books she is described as a ‘’titian haired blonde.”  Fine with me, but maybe we shouldn’t be so pious when our best friend is Loreal #8RB.  But that is just me.  Since the Neighborhood Book Club is only on our second Nancy Drew book, we have not yet met to Ned, but I remember him well.  Slick.  Handsome.  Probably up to no good and I am sure he is just around the corner.   A Ken doll in the making.  Undoubtedly, we will meet the scoundrel soon.   I know this all sounds extreme, but really, if Nancy Drew were alive today she would be on Dr. Phil.  And that, my friends, would have sold even more copies.


3 Responses to “Girl Detective”

  1. Melonee said

    Again, laughed out loud! Can’t wait for Book #3!

  2. MJ said

    Now I want to re-read Nancy Drew. Amazing how one’s perspective changes one’s perception.
    Love your blog!

  3. Anne McLeod said

    I read a book called THE SATURDAYS when I was about nine or ten.and this was the book I think that made me want to move to NY. It was a story about the Melendy children and how they came up with an idea to pool their allowances. Every Saturday, one of them took the money and went out and had an adventure in the city. Of course, misadventure eventually happened to one of them. The story introduces the eccentric characters in their daily lives, too.

    I thought that this story was so great because in NY they had all of those resources to go to but growing up in a small, Louisiana town didn’t allow those adventures at all.

    I still have that book.

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