The Girl with a Clue

NOV / DEC 2011: BY CAITLIN HORTON

nancy

Long before the advent of computers, DVD’s, VHS, and Television, a girl sleuth mesmerized the world. She was not the flashiest personality around, she didn’t drive expensive cars or takes trips to Europe, but nonetheless she inspired three generations of women. She is now a charming old doll of 81, but does she let her age slow her down? No sir! She carries on into the 21st century, still taking part in mystery after mystery with enthusiasm. Her name? Why, it’s Nancy Drew!

The first book was published in 1930 and was known as The Secret of the Old Clock. That book was like the taste of fresh-homemade bread… you can’t have just one bite, after all. And millions of women have bitten since then, including me. I have read some of the original books; my mother has read them all, sporting a hardbound collection that makes one think of words like “staggering” and “impressive.” Lined up on shelves like a little yellow-bound army, they were always there to combat summer boredom. These books sparked many long conversations about Nancy and her friends. One of my mother’s personal favorites is The Sign of the Twisted Candles, while I prefer The Mystery at Lilac Inn.

Written by the immortal and multiple voiced Carolyn Keene, the mysteries feel a bit like a curio shop: a bit of this, a pinch of that, some old fashioned humor, some new fashioned clothes, and viola! You get the perfect recipe for sleuthing tales appropriate for females of all ages.

Now, some might wonder if Nancy is permanently stuck in her own time. Not at all. New books continue to be written and published, though they differ from the quaintness of the originals. Nancy has also made the rounds of the moving picture industry, and in the 1930s made her silver screen debut! The girl sleuth appeared in four stories, portrayed by an energetic and fast talking Bonita Granville. Nancy then went on to appear in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries of the 1970s, a show my mother watched when it was running and that I’ve watched since its conversion to DVD. If you can get around bell-bottom jeans and a slightly geeky Ned, the show is well-worth seeing. Nancy was also in a made-for-TV movie and a theatrical version released in 2007, with Emma Roberts in the lead as Nancy.

Perhaps most influential in my own life were the Her Interactive Nancy Drew Mystery PC Games, the first of which came out in 1998. For the past decade I have faithfully played every single game and become amazingly attached to their Nancy Drew, though I do admit to being scared at certain parts in the games. If I had really been Nancy I would have been hiding under bedcovers or in a closet! But even if she does get a tiny bit scared from time to time Nancy never lets that get in the way of achieving her goal and uncovering the guilty party.

Nancy drew is 81 and going strong. Thankfully, there will be no retirement party with balloons for this amazing sleuth.

May she continue to inspire girls and women to take charge of situations and help them find a clue for many years to come! ■

novdec2011

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Caitlin Horton is a 20-something reader, seamstress, and history buff. She lives a life blessed in the knowledge that she is God’s child, and her life has a purpose within the scope of His plan. She encourages her readers to remember, every day can be like Bilbo’s “adventure” if you’re willing to take the “ordinary” and add some “extra” in front of it! She also blogs about her crafts!

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