Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nancy Drew: Supreme Court Role Model

Mary Jo Murphy, writing for The New York Times, connects the dots to find out what Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor have in common. A childhood love of Nancy Drew, it turns out. She then tries to figure out why Nancy appealed to these three high achieving women when they were children.

It wasn't the plots ("formulaic") or the writing. Murphy thinks it was this:

“The real allure of Nancy Drew is that, almost uniquely among classic or modern heroines, she can follow — is allowed to follow — a train of thought,” wrote Sandra Tsing Loh, reviewing Melanie Rehak’s “Girl Sleuth,” a biography of Nancy Drew’s creators, in The Atlantic. “The plot opens ever outward for her, her speeding blue convertible a metaphor for the sure-shot arrow of her intellect, the splendidly whizzing shaft of the maiden huntress Diana.”

Sounds right to me. What I loved about Nancy Drew when I was a kid was the idea that she had the intellect to figure things out. She also had the time and the money to spend time figuring things out. And friends who wanted to help her figure things out. A perfect combination.

At one point my sister and I had, between us, every Nancy Drew book in publication. They are still at my mother's house because we can't split them up.

My favorite(s)? I liked so many. I really liked The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk (in which she traveled to South America) and The Mystery of the Fire Dragon (in which she went to New York and Hong Kong). But I have a real soft spot in my heart for The Witch Tree Symbol in which Nancy travels in Amish country, because that was the first Nancy Drew book I ever read.