Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Book Review of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw the vintage image of Nancy on the cover.  Her picture brought back so many fond summertime memories of climbing the attic steps and digging another Nancy Drew mystery out of the box.  Her road trips, wardrobe, mannerly ways, and interactions with her beloved father and housekeeper were just a few of the things I loved about Nancy's world. 

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak is a fascinating history of America's much-loved girl detective.  I learned that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for two women (and one man!) who wrote about Nancy, Ned, Bess and George over the course of many decades.  I also had no idea that the Nancy Drew books I read in the '70s and '80s had been "modernized" in several ways from the ones my mother would have read in the '50s (which makes me want to look up some of the older versions to see how they were changed!).

This book is not only a biography of the lives of the women who created the girl detective but also a history of how Nancy changes through the decades.  It tells of how the character and her writers were affected by the Depression, the World Wars, the abundance of the '50s, the racial tensions of the '60s and the increased promiscuity of the '70s.  It's a fascinating look at American history, and, specifically, the many changes experienced by women through the decades.  (And by the way, is a little heavy-handed on the women's liberation movement, which I must admit I found a bit tiring).  The book also contains much insightful information about the book publishing business, ghost writing, and marketing techniques.

If you loved Nancy Drew as a girl, you'll probably find this narrative on her creators and her history thought-provoking.  And if you somehow missed meeting Nancy, Girl Sleuth might just have you looking up those hard-back treasures.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Like you, I spent many summers enjoying Nancy Drew mysteries!