Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nancy Drew and Jane Eyre

As a young reader, I loved Nancy Drew mysteries. I read hardbacks my mom had read growing up that were still at my grandparents' house. We had a few at our house, too, and I borrowed a good many from the library. My favorite was The Hidden Staircase. (Then I remember thinking how cool it was that later on when I was into the Babysitters Club series that there was also one of those at Dawn's house, remember?)

When I was looking for library books to borrow for my Kindle (OK, yes, I recently made the leap and I have to say I completely love it), How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted immediately caught my eye. I breezed right through the book and enjoyed it for what it was (chick lit) for the most part.

The plot is nothing unusual considering the genre: a 20 year-old lives in Manhattan leading a life that has her wanting more. She's just suffered a terrible breakup; she had an affair with the married father whose children were in her care. She needs to make a change so she answers a want ad for a nanny in Iceland and gets the job.

All throughout the book Charlotte, desperately trying to improve her life, considers at each decision point how the capable Nancy Drew would handle the situation. This helps her make quicker, better decisions than she might have otherwise, thinking on her feet instead of being her wishy-washy old self. I liked that she kept striving to be move Nancy Drew-like and referenced quite a few specifics from some of the 56 novels Carolyn Keene wrote in the original series.

About halfway through the novel, though, Baratz-Logsted switched gears and I noticed that Charlotte's experiences nannying in Iceland suddenly began to mirror Jane Eyre in multiple ways. Finally, Charlotte thinks to herself that her life has eerily become just like Jane Eyre's well after most readers would have caught on to that fact. I liked the idea of life imitating Jane Eyre but it was jarring to keep jumping back and forth between Charlotte's inner thoughts about becoming more like Nancy Drew while she was aware that she was just like Jane Eyre. I don't see why the author couldn't have separated these ideas into two separate books. Perhaps Charlotte's nannying adventures could still be set in Iceland, and the Nancy Drew idea could be applied to nearly any plot line imaginable. Plus, I'd think Jane Eyre would be worthy of having her name in the title of another book as well.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable read overall, and tomorrow I have to stop by the library, because my requested audiobook of The Hidden Staircase is in.

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