Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nancy Drew: Can You Believe This Girl???

If you know me at all, you know that I love children's books.

After all, I'm a children's librarian.

I've never read Nancy Drew.
Everybody has read Nancy Drew.
My mother, for example, adored Nancy Drew.
And it's on the list of 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.

So I've been listening to Nancy Drew on the ride to school every morning.
And guffawing.

(Please, please, don't tell my mother.)

Nancy Drew is just too ridiculous to be believed.

With a copyright date of 1930, right in the middle of the American Depression,
here's the first bit of the first Nancy Drew:

"Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen,
was driving home along a country road
in her new, dark-blue convertible.
She had just delivered some legal papers for her father.

'It was sweet of Dad to give me this car for my birthday,' she thought.
'And it's fun to help him in his work.'"

The plot has Nancy meeting up with two elderly women, with very little income, who are trying to raise a young niece. Nancy learns that the two women had been promised an inheritance from a rich relative, but instead the relative apparently left all his money to a family with two snobbish daughters. There could be a later will, Nancy discovers, and she is off to find it.

Here's a little more:
"When she told Hannah Gruen her plans, the housekeeper warned,
'Don't become too deeply involved in this matter, dear.
In your zeal to help other people, you may forget to be on your guard.'

'I promise to be as careful as a pussycat walking up a slippery roof,'
Nancy assured the housekeeper with a grin."

I think it is all the adjectives that are annoying me.
"The pleasant, slightly plump housekeeper."
Nancy's 'tall and handsome father'.

And Nancy is just so terribly nice.
Refusing to engage in gossip.
Cheerily playing badminton with a child.
Never losing her temper despite a long wait at a department store.
So nice.

Have I become jaded?  Am I being harsh in judging
sweet Nancy to be a goody-two-shoes,
a namby-pamby?


  1. Oh dear. I've been wondering how Nancy Drew will stack up to rational, adult perusal. I absolutely loved this series as a kid. I have two boxes of my old books from the early 70s sitting in the wardrobe in the spare room. Waiting. Enid Blyton was a let down when I revisited her. Will Nancy be the same for me, or will she tug at some old memories?

    I've not heard of The Tattooed Map. It sounds interesting. Is it an adult book, or YA?

  2. HUH?? This doesn't sound like the Nancy Drew I remember. I have 4 or 5 to be reread beginning with #1, I'll be curious what I think as an adult...LOL

  3. I never read Nancy Drew as a youngster either. I think as an adult I would probably view it differently than I would have as a youngster. The thing that struck me was that since it was written in the middle of the Depression, why give her a brand new car? Seems a little over the top but I guess it was suppose to be a sign of better times to come.

    Thoughts in Progress

  4. I'm worried that I'm turning into one of those cranky old women who fuss about everything. I don't like Nancy Drew. I don't like the ARC I received this week. I didn't like the last ARC I received before that....Oh dear.

  5. The Tattooed Map is a grownup book, I'd say. Mysterious. Fun. I saw it on a list, "Beautiful and Odd" in the magazine Bookmarks. A couple of other books on the list are YA including The Invention of Hugo Cabret (is it a 1001 book?) and Griffin & Sabine (how about this one?) and Selected Works of T. S. Spivet and Persepolis.

  6. I can't wait to be old enough to turn into a Grumpy Old Woman! (Do you get the BBC shows Grumpy Old Women and Grumpy Old Men? They're hysterical) I think that right and eccentricity both start at 50.

    I'm keen to dig out my copy of Nancy and have a squizz, but it's too late tonight, and it's too buried in the cupboard. Will try to do it during the week.

    Hugo Cabret is an 1001 book. I've never heard of Griffin & Sabine. Just googled it, then checked it out on Amazon. Sounds intriguing. Oh, and my library has it! Now I want to read it. It's only 48 pages Amazon said. Couldn't take too long, even for me. Will I ever get through the months reading? Actually I've still got 200 pages of last months reading to finish....

  7. I loved Nancy Drew!! Especially the Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys Super Mysteries :D

    I remember her being a lot edgier lol. My adult self now wants to read them again and see :) Oh no, there goes my week!

  8. What an interesting post! :) I loved Nancy Drew as a child and have many of the older books plus some of the newer mysteries and now I am curious to see what I think of them as an adult! I have a little girl that comes into the library every other day to check out books and she is reading Nancy Drew too and loving it. I wonder if we do become jaded as adults? I'm going to reread a Nancy Drew soon and see what I think. Thanks for the honest review!

  9. I haven't read any Nancy Drew before but I understand the feeling of being the only person you know that hasn't. The Tattooed Map sounds pretty good especially when you mentioned the maps, side notes, and things. Have a great week!

  10. I used to prefer the Hardy Boys to Nancy Drew, but they were all great books.

    Have a great week!

  11. I read several Nancy Drews and a bit of Hardy Boys when I was young, but I much preferred Trixie Belden, who, compared to Miss Drew, was much more believable. Plus, Trixie's best friend had a stableful of horses!

    I still have all my old Trixie Beldens but I'm afraid to read them. What if she turns out to be just as absurd as Nancy?

  12. I was a Trixie Belden fan as well. I have a collection of those too lurking in the cupboard. For some reason I really can't remember much of them at all. Same thing with the Willard Price adventure series. South Sea Adventure. Amazon Adventure etc. It will be interesting to revisit those too as an adult. Amazon Adventure is a 1001 book Debbie. Trixie Belden didn't make it.

  13. I also read Trixie Belden. I've never heard of Willard Price, though I did see Amazon Adventure on the list.

  14. I never read Nancy Drew, and after reading this don't feel I missed much. I guess it is dated, harking back to a time when children's books were partly moral guides. I did read Enid Blyton when I was young and didn't like that much either.

  15. ...I do like the sound of that map book though - great idea!

  16. I read alot of Nancy Drew as a kid, but that was a long time ago...I do remember loving the Cherry Ames, Student Nurse series...anyone remember her?

  17. I remember Cherry Ames! Much more grown up than Trixie Belden. What was it about her?

    Same type of book binding for all these series (cardboard, if I remember correctly). I know Trixie and Nancy had ghost writers. I wonder if Cherry did, too.

  18. Aww! I loved Nancy Drew when I was younger! I definitely remember rolling my eyes at that opening passage you quoted, though. But if I recall correctly, they do get better over time. I hope you'll give Nancy another chance later in her career! And remember that they were intended for very young girls who haven't yet developed their cynicism muscles =)

  19. I read these books as a pre-teen(hell that word didn't even exist then) back in the 60's and I loved them. I raced to the book mobile each time it arrived with my books and loved going to town every other week (yeah ONCE every 2 weeks nor every day)where I got to buy the next book in the series. I don't think very many of the books from that era would stack up well with the kids of today, I mean really. 1960's- no cell phones (heck a lot of homes still didn't have phones), no internet, no computers, no color TV, no video games,no reality shows where you were trained to be rude and mean to other people. Our sole entertainment was playing outside or reading during the summer as there was no MTV, Tyra or shows other than soaps on TV during the day. We were taught manners and definitely didn't show our ass in public cause if we did, we knew the consequences when we got home. Yeah, these books probably don't stack up very well to Twilight or Harry Potter but for that era they were every girls dream read as we didn't have 100's of authors to choice from like the kids today. However, I don't want to reread them as I'd rather remember them with the love, affection, and excitement that they and other kids books from that time provided me and thousands of other kids who liked for the bookmobile pulling up in our country neighborhoods.

  20. I've never read any Nancy Drew, but I do like to read vintage novels. It helps me if I can borrow a copy of the book that was printed as close to the original publication date as possible. Something about the vintage cover and font throws me back to that era and makes it easier for me to suspend my disbelief. It's a little like watching the black-and-white original of a movie rather than the modern remake.

  21. I didn't enjoy Cheap Cabernet either. I didn't like the writing or the story or pretty much anything about the book! I'm going to try to pull my review together tomorrow. It is interesting to me that on Amazon the book has almost 5 stars but on both Library Thing and Goodreads it is a lot closer to 3 stars.

  22. I just read the first Nancy Drew today (actually, I listened to the audiobook) and I agree with your assessment. I know it's a classic series, but if it WEREN'T a classic series, it wouldn't stand up to children's lit being published today. ALSO, I AGREE with you on the ADJECTIVES. I kept laughing, too, saying to myself, "Okay, now I know that Nancy is agile! Now I know that Nancy is agile AND dexterous!" etc.

  23. Thank you, Abby. I was beginning to think I was the lone voice crying out in the wilderness. Thank you for confirmation that I'm not alone in finding Nancy Drew too patient and helpful to be real.


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