Gosh, I feel alive again.
I’ve read a bunch of Nancy Drews, and I’m thinking about what to say about her. I think she’s in the news a lot lately because Sonia Sottomajor mentioned reading her as a child. A friend of mine who’s a lawyer loved them and read all of them, and many successful women (well, successful in the meaning of having a prominent career, I guess) have mentioned that they all read Nancy Drew when they were young and liked her gung ho attitude.
I like her, and I can appreciate her gung ho attitude, but she was never my favorite read — she was too good at everything and never had any qualms about anything. She wasn’t very complicated. I do like mysteries, but I tend to like the ones by Ian Rankin, or Henning Mankell, and I tend to like them for the conflicted lives of the detectives more than for the crimes they solve.
In my opinion, the mystery part of mysteries is pretty arbitrary anyway, since it’s all made up anyway. So the interesting part is really the location. Do you really get a feel for Edinburgh or Ystad from them? I kind of think you do, although I might be wrong. You get a sense of the midwest from Nancy Drew, and a sense of the time period — the 30s — I actually think they’d be better if they really were located somewhere, like Beezus and Ramona on Klickitat St.
Anyway, I find them somewhat unsatisfying.
Something I’m finding infinitely more satisfying is Molly Hughes’ A London Family. I’m currently in the middle of the middle volume, which covers the life of Molly Hughes when she’s in her 20s, and London is about in the 1890s. Adam Gopnik wrote an intro to the persephone edition of the first volume, about her childhood, and mentioned what a hard life she had — particularly the part where she was engaged for 10 years while her fiancee became a barrister. But really, it sounds great. She goes to school to learn how to teach teachers, and then helps to set up a school to teach teachers. I think she’s got the best of both worlds — she does eventually marry and have a family (and then have to go to work again when her husband dies, apparently) but in the meantime she is working passionately at her career, and traveling around America and Canada. There is no doubt that she is a person who knows how to wring the best out of any situation. It’s a great book — much more inspiring than Nancy Drew, I have to say.
So anyway — that’s what I’ve been up to, post party.