I don’t remember the first time I read The Secret of the Old Clock, the first in the Nancy Drew series, but I do remember devouring the series the way I now devour Godiva Chocolates (can’t get enough and approach cautiously unless you want to be injured for interrupting me). For the first time in my life the main character who went out and solved the problem was a female. Don’t get me wrong, prior to the Nancy Drew series I had read most of the Boxcar Children series but Jessie follows her brother’s lead in that series whereas Nancy leads the way. It allowed me to see that girls should be asking “why” and “what if”, questioning the world around them and paying attention to what is going on. I still have my original copy (which was my mother’s first), a dogeared well used hardbound edition. I read some Hardy Boys novels but I didn’t devour the series like I did the Nancy Drew series. Although I will admit I really wanted Frank of the Hardy Boys and Nancy to get together (I always felt like Ned was a little wishy-washy for Nancy) and when I was in middle school I LOVED the Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys Super Mysteries.
This week marks the 85th anniversary of the publication of The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene. There is a wonderfully written essay by Theodore Jefferson about “The Girl Who Started it All” found here and a nice tribute on The Mighty Girls Facebook page here. I love to see the books I enjoyed in my younger years still being enjoyed today! I also love it when publishers embrace newer (ebooks are not really new anymore but some older published books haven’t been updating older print books into new formats) formats and you can get The Secret of the Old Clock in hardcover, mass paperback, ebook, audible CD and audible download. In addition to the original novels, Nancy Drew has also been the star of a film (2007 starring Emma Roberts) and an entire series of mystery video games (Jillian, a reviewer here at Novel Reaction, is addicted to them and I think has almost all, if not all of them).
When my younger sister Jordanne and I found the newer artwork at a book story I was seriously tempted to get a new copy just because I love the 1930s outfit they put Nancy in. After writing this, I may just have to dig out my copy of The Secret of the Old Clock and reread it for old time’s sake this week. Did you read the Nancy Drew mysteries? Any other books you grew up reading that made a huge impact on your life?
This week marks the 110th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birth (1905-1982). While I am not a huge fan of the dystopian genre (yes I have read The Hunger Games and Divergent but I just didn’t love them), Ayn Rand’s Anthem had a HUGE impact on me in high school. For those of you unfamiliar with the term dystopian Wikipedia describes it as:
A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, or anti-utopia) is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is literally translated as “not-good place”, an antonym of utopia. Such societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in a future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Dystopian societies appear in many sub-genres of fiction and are often used to draw attention to real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science, and/or technology, which if unaddressed could potentially lead to such a dystopia-like condition.
Anthem was an assigned reading for one of my English classes (I don’t remember which one) and I was blown away with the realization of how powerful language could be upon a society. When you take away a person’s ability to learn, to innovate, and to think in terms outside of a collective society you take away who they are and what makes them human. I’m sure I read novels with this concept before reading Anthem but for some reason this concept really hit home that time. Anthem is one of those books I usually read at least once a year because it is just that fabulous. For those of you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this thought provoking book I highly recommend you do. It isn’t very long (definitely not the volume that Atlas Shrugged is) and it is in the public domain which means you can legally download and read it for free here.
Ask just about any romance author which author had the greatest impact on them and their writing and they will almost always say Georgette Heyer. Credited with creating the Regency Period genre, Heyer was an amazingly prolific writer who published her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of 17 and it has never been out of print since (info from Georgette Heyer Fan site found here). There have been numerous essays, articles, fan gushings, and books written about Heyer, including this latest biography that I am itching to read (Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester). It is not just that Heyer creating fun characters with dashing adventures, it is truly her attention to detail that has helped her capture the hearts and minds of readers for decades.
My mother first introduced me to the wonderful writings of Heyer when I was a teenager. Not only are Heyer’s novels filled with adventure, spunk, sass, and love, they are also clean so no graphic sex scenes. But Heyer’s writing is so great the sex scenes aren’t needed. Years later (I’m not going to share how many years since I read my first copy but know that it is more than a few) my print copies are literally worn out, bindings broken, pages falling out, all because I (and my sisters) have reread them so many times. While I do have almost her entire collection in ebook format now, I find that I just can’t give away my well-loved print copies.
Now I can’t say I love all of her historical novels (not a huge fan of The Convenient Wife) but I do love a number of them. It has been years since I have read some of them so I thought, what better way to kick off a new year on Novel Reaction than by reading a Georgette Heyer novel each month?! For those of you old fans, it is a good excuse to dust off your copy and enjoy a reread. For those of you new to Georgette Heyer, you are in for a treat! The first couple of novels I have chosen but as the year progresses I will post some polls and see what everyone is interested in reading. For this month (and I realize I am late getting this posting up and the month is already more than half over) I thought we would start of reading Heyer’s “series” beginning with These Old Shades.
Set in the Georgian period, about 20 years before the Regency, These Old Shades is considered to be the book that launched Heyer’s career. It features two of Heyer’s most memorable characters: Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, and Leonie, whom he rescues from a life of ignomy and comes to love and marry.
The Duke is known for his coldness of manner, his remarkable omniscience, and his debauched lifestyle. Late one evening, he is accosted by a young person dressed in ragged boy’s clothing running away from a brutal rustic guardian. The Duke buys “Leon” and makes the child his page. “Leon” is in fact Leonie, and she serves the Duke with deep devotion. When he uncovers the true story of her birth, he wreaks an unforgettable revenge on her sinister father in a chilling scene of public humiliation.
I love the New Year! Not so much for parties or food (although I do love food) but for the feeling of change that comes over me. Its as if all the bad habits of last year no longer exist and I have the opportunity to start fresh. As soon as Christmas is over (and sometimes even before) I start thinking on what I want to change/do different in the New Year. I only allow myself five resolutions for the New Year so that I realistically achieve my goals. This year I am resolved to bring back Novel Reaction. While I have been still reading books (never gonna stop that one) I haven’t been as invested in my reading because I haven’t been posting reviews for some time. So welcome 2015, a year of good things to come, good habits to achieve, and good books to devour!
Do you have any New Years’ Resolutions you are hoping to start? I have decided to do a Georgette Heyer reading challenge this year so be prepared for more information to come on that one.