Congratulations to the class of 2010! For most of you, the beginning of June will bring the freedom you’ve been waiting for since fall 2006: your high school or college days are behind you and it’s time to join the fabulous “real world” – almost. Graduating seniors have no doubt been told by now that it’s not quite all smooth sailing from here and yes, unfortunately, that is the case. However, there are lots of people who have been through it all before and who are more than willing to offer their insights and advice for the upcoming challenges.
One of these people is J. R. Parrish, author of “You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way: Making it in the Real World.” In his book, which he calls a “guide for graduates,” Parrish tackles many of the issues that arise after graduation. By combining stories from personal experience with general advice that could be applied to any life, Parrish offers a valuable resource for any graduate hoping to survive in the real world without, as he says, learning the hard way.
One of the first topics Parrish discusses in his book is how to achieve success or, as he puts it, how to “make your dreams come true.” Parrish relates a story about one of his first jobs and the struggle he went through to attain it. Because he did not graduate from college, Parrish was at first turned down for a job he wanted at Xerox. After that position was denied him, he went to Xerox’s main competitor, where he was given a job and enjoyed not a small amount of success. After some time at that job, Xerox got back in touch with him and offered him the job he had wanted originally, which he gladly took.
There are several lessons to be learned from Parrish’s experience with Xerox. The first is that it is highly unlikely that you will get the first job you inquire about; the second is that it is crucial not to give up. It is all too easy to experience a failure, such as Parrish’s with Xerox, and to decide that it would be pointless to keep trying. However, Parrish is right when he insists that you not give up so easily! Whether you choose to seek another route to your desired job, the way Parrish did, or to try a completely different job opportunity, the most important thing to remember is not to give up. As a graduate, you’ve put in a lot of hard work to this point and you deserve to land in a job that’s right for you.
Another main point in “You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way” is Parrish’s belief that marriage (or a serious dating relationship) is something best avoided at this stage of your life. Parrish shares his own experience in getting married early on: though his parents and other respected figures advised against it, he was sure at the age of nineteen that he was ready, and ignored their advice. His marriage lasted for seven years, during which time he and his wife grew increasingly distant from each other due to Parrish’s personal goals and ambition. At the end of those seven years, Parrish decided that his individual journey needed and deserved more time and attention than did his marriage.
Parrish’s includes a list of suggestions with his personal advice, to include “have at least a year-long engagement” and “take plenty of time before having children.” Though Parrish would certainly have benefited from his own advice, based on the outcome of his own experience with marriage, his counsel should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. Some people are truly ready to get married at a young age and take great joy in facing this difficult stage of life with a spouse as a partner. It is important to keep in mind that what works for Parrish may not work for you, and what he counts as personal failures may be the brightest spots in your own life.
One piece of extremely valuable advice in this book is to “solicit, listen to, and weigh your parents’ advice carefully because they have your best interests at heart and can help you avoid costly mistakes.” For Parrish, that mistake was marriage; for you, it might be the wrong graduate program, the wrong career path, etc. Though it might feel great to finally be an adult and not have to listen to your parents anymore, it is important to realize that they have been a huge part of your life for the last however many years, and therefore are likely to be able to offer insights that you might not see for yourself.
J. R. Parrish’s “You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way” is ultimately a practical, concise guide for recent graduates who seek some advice on how to best reach the next stage of life. Find it in your local bookstore, and consider it as a gift for yourself or for a graduating loved one!
When Kelly Cutrone found out that a People’s Revolution intern had blogged about her working experience online (equating her internship with a “Devil Wears Prada”-type ordeal), Cutrone did not hesitate to pick up the phone, call the intern, and fire her on the spot—but not before threatening to sue her and her parents for every penny they owned. All interns who work at People’s Revolution are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which meant that this particular intern had breached her contract. Cutrone recalls how ten feet away from her office, the remaining interns sat frozen in their seats with their mouths hanging open, shocked at what had happened.
In Cutrone’s own words, “I believe in an occasional public firing (when deserved, of course) for exactly this reason. Usually, we hide consequences away, in prisons or in rehab. But telling seventh-graders that crime doesn’t pay is probably less effective than taking them to a prison to let them see for themselves…” This episode, which comes about three-quarters into the book, exemplifies Cutrone’s trademark no-nonsense attitude.
What makes If You Have to Cry, Go Outside an especially compelling read is the heartfelt advice Cutrone offers her readers. Young women especially have a lot to learn from this book. All too often, we second-guess ourselves and end up allowing others to make decisions for us. Even when these decisions are based in good intentions, they may not be the plan of action we need to move forward in the right direction. Cutrone recalls how even when her heart was set on her career, her parents were determined to pressure her into a domestic lifestyle, replete with marriage and children.
Cutrone devotes a solid amount of her book to lamenting the state of women in modern society. She is appalled by the way women treat each other, by how women seem to take every opportunity possible to criticize their female friends and colleagues with overused words like “bitch” and “slut.” What sets this book apart from so many of the other self-help books out there is the realization that career advancement means nothing if an individual is not also prepared body and spirit for the greater responsibility and hard work that lies ahead.
Cutrone understands that to be successful is first and foremost an inner battle with oneself. As one of the most powerful women in the fashion industry Cutrone is, of course, a shining example of this kind of spiritual awakening. In a few years’ time, she went from being a country bumpkin to a homeless, carless drug addict living in New York. She partied in New York’s most risqué clubs until 4 in the morning, drinking, taking on multiple lovers, and enjoying life in the Big Apple. There were essentially two turning points in Cutrone’s tumultuous rise to fame. The first was Cutrone’s accidental run-in with heroin, which led to her waking up unexpectedly in someone else’s bed. The second was Cutrone’s painful detox and the spiritual enlightenment that followed, in which she saw the Universal Mother floating above her body. However, these experiences constitute a small part of Cutrone’s larger message: that people should always listen to their inner voice, to their gut. We young women should not allow this instinct to be subdued by what we hear from friends, colleagues, coworkers, and family – no matter how much we love them.
The book, beyond being a celebration of women, is also a practical guide for recent grads still on the lookout for a job. Cutrone offers tips on what to wear, how to act in front of one’s superiors, and how lower-level employees can make the most of their job, even when all they seem to do is drudge work. Readers are guaranteed to take away an assortment of lessons and experiences from this book, among the most important of which is extracted right from the title: If you have to cry, go outside.
Prior to the advent of Coco Chanel, women wore floor-length gowns that practically screamed opulence and over-the-top decadence. Women’s bodies were draped in fabrics ranging from chiffon to velvet taffeta, and padded with cloth, girdles, and corsets that all but suffocated their wearers to death. With the arrival of Coco Chanel, however, all of this changed. Chanel’s clothes liberated the female body, allowing women to wear clothes that were chic; flawlessly tailored, yet deceptively simple.
Over the course of her lifetime, Chanel inspired a wealth of trends, ranging from faux pearl necklaces to tweed jackets to jersey sweaters. She singlehandedly changed the face of women’s fashion, all while courting some of the most illustrious men in history. Her fearlessness, inner strength, and confidence, however, are what has made her legacy one of the most fascinating stories in the world. Karen Karbo highlights this point repeatedly in her book, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel.
Karen Karbo’s writing radiates energy, wit, and humor, and readers would be hard-pressed to find even one section in the book that does not reflect her personal enthusiasm for the legend that is Chanel. The structure of the novel is quite simple. Karbo divides her book into chapters that each tell a story from Chanel’s life, while offering advice to readers on what they can take away from each account.
For instance, in chapter 7 of the book, Karbo retells the story of Chanel’s rivalry with Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Schiaparelli, the inventor of such creations as the Lobster Dress (a white silk evening gown featuring a large red hand-painted lobster) and the Shoe Hat (literally an upside down women’s shoe with the heel pointing upward), essentially stole all of Chanel’s customers at the height of her influence. According to Karbo, Chanel never once publicly recognized the rivalry. Instead, the French designer quietly closed down the House of Chanel, lying in wait for Schiaparelli’s ridiculous designs to go out of style before she made her comeback.
The lesson to be learned from Chanel’s actions? Karbo cites one of Chanel’s most well known quotes in an effort to make her point. She writes, “All the best Chanel maxims are slightly opaque, koan-like. Perhaps her most famous one is ‘Elegance is refusal,’ which can mean any number of things, from refusing melted butter on your popcorn to refusing to pay too much attention – or any attention – to your rival.”
Karbo’s book gives readers the chance to learn not only from Chanel’s triumphs but from her mistakes as well. Among the many affairs that Chanel had, one of her more unfortunate relationships was allegedly with Nazi officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage. During the Nazi occupation in France, Chanel was rumored to have come to an understanding with the Germans, a scandal that would soil both her career and reputation as a designer. Following the liberation of France, Chanel was arrested and brought to trial, though she was released shortly afterwards when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill intervened on her behalf. Even after she was let go, Chanel knew her life was still in danger, so she fled for years to Switzerland and returned to France in 1953, at the time when Christian Dior debuted what he called “The New Look.”
Even though Karbo does not say this explicitly, I believe the lesson to be learned from Chanel’s departure for Switzerland is knowing what to do when one is beaten. Chanel may not have publicly admitted her mistake, but her actions spoke for themselves. As in the case of Elsa Schiaparelli, Chanel knew that timing is everything and that her patience would be rewarded. In Switzerland, Chanel amused herself with fashion magazines and lived knowing that her legacy survived on a single perfume bottle: No. 5.
Interwoven into the text of Chanel’s life and success is Karbo’s own journey: to buy a genuine piece of Chanel couture. Her endeavors take her from eBay to Paris, France, where she comes to the rather illuminating conclusion that she does not have to buy Chanel in order to wear Chanel. Karbo then sets off to create her own Chanel jacket, an attempt that certainly bears witness to her love of Chanel’s self-made success and fearlessness.
Yet another point that Karbo makes in her book is worth remembering, or at the very least considering. This lesson, however controversial, is one that she backs up with evidence from Chanel’s life; no one, not even Coco Chanel, can have it all. Chanel might have experienced love in her life, but she never married or had children. Chanel knew what she wanted most from life, and she knew how to make it her priority. She chose to turn down countless marriage proposals from rich and famous men who offered her a world of wealth and comfort, and in doing so, she refused to trade her passion and independence for a domestic life she knew she could not lead. When asked why she had rejected the Duke of Westminster’s proposal, Chanel simply replied, “There have been several Duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel.”
Whether you plan to hit the beach or chill at home for your upcoming vacation, here are three light, fun and feminine reads you might want to pick up. Smart chick lit at its best, these books offer strong leads grappling with very real situations.
Emily Giffin’s “Something Borrowed”
“Something Borrowed” is the tale of do-gooder Rachel, who is always pushing her own desires aside and letting best friend Darcy take the reins. Rachel is a hardworking, single lawyer who hates that she’s stuck day after day doing paperwork but can’t consider quitting. On the other hand, Darcy lucked out with a fabulous Manhattan PR job, airbrushed body and handsome fiancé Dex to boot. Rachel is the perfect friend, but when she and Dex sleep together on the eve of her 30th birthday, Rachel finds herself weighing her interests against Darcy’s and desperately trying to be a good friend while following her heart.
Giffin’s writing is superb, and Rachel may be the most relatable protagonist to emerge in a sea of the wannabe-models and Prada-wearing assistants that give chick lit a bad name.
Meg Cabot’s “Every Boy’s Got One”
Even if you haven’t read Meg Cabot before (The Princess Diaries, Avalon High), “Every Boy’s Got One” will show you why she’s cornered the teen girls market: she understands the way both women and men think. “Every Boy’s Got One” is laugh out loud funny and at times frustrating. Jane Harris heads to Italy to witness her best friend’s elopement only to get caught in some love-hate sparring with the best man. The relationships between Jane, Cal and soon-to-be-wedded Holly and Mark are revealed through diary entries, emails, tickets and more. Throw in a few mothers, an Italian housekeeper and the non-responsive boy Jane asked to watch her cat and it’s a rollicking trip from airport to Italian villa.
An easy read, “Every Boy’s Got One” is Cabot at her simplistic best. The magic lies not in the writing but in the arrangement; here, a receipt from the airport store releases giggles.
Hester Browne’s “The Little Lady Agency”
Melissa Romney-Jones is at her wit’s end. She loses her secretarial job, her father constantly holds the money he lent her over her head, and she unknowingly becomes an escort for her old etiquette teacher’s business. Once she discovers her error, Melissa decides to create what she thought she was signing up for in the first place: an etiquette-teaching, man-shaping business catering solely to the social needs of London’s not-quite-so eligible men. To do so, she dons a blonde wig and ups her self-confidence. But soon she realizes keeping bombshell “Honey” separate from Melissa isn’t as easy as shimmying into one of Honey’s cocktail dresses.
Browne’s breakout novel is a breakthrough success. Melissa is a creative entrepreneur ready to show her family and her ex-employers that her organization, wits and charm will get her where she wants to go.
If you’re hungry for more of the same characters, Giffin has written “Something Blue” as a follow-up with a twist and Browne has written two more books featuring Melissa.
What, you may ask, is a Go-Getter Girl? Well, a Go-Getter Girl is no single person. She can be your ambitious and terrifyingly organized cubicle mate. She can also be your boss, or the person your boss roots for at all the important meetings. She is typically on the receiving end of everything you dream of at work: fast promotions, pay raises, and high-profile projects. And to top it all off, she is always cheerful and upbeat, and converses well with interns, secretaries, colleagues, and managers alike.
Every office has a Go-Getter Girl, and we all have a good idea of what she looks like. Her heels are immaculately polished, her nails are well manicured, and even first thing in the morning she appears as though she just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue, designer handbag in tow. As this woman’s colleague or employee, you may feel intimidated, jealous, angry, or any combination of these feelings. Why is this girl so perfect? How did she become this way? Why am I not doing what she is doing?
Thankfully, there is a book devoted entirely to the art of becoming a Go-Getter Girl versus, as author Debra Shigley calls it, a Get-Along Girl. The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide: Get What You Want in Work and Life (and Look Great While You’re At It) is divided into three sections, each covering one component of the Go-Getter Girl and what it will take to get out of your Get-Along Girl slump. While Shigley’s encouraging tone just might get some readers pumped for a life-changing transformation, the book covers no new ground. Most of us know that it is unprofessional to cry at work or to break down in front of bosses and colleagues. Readers may assume, just from using common sense, that coworkers will be more likely to betray you when their own butt is on the line than to help you out. While many of the stories in Shigley’s book are quite inspiring (like those of Spanx founder Sara Blakely and bestselling novelist Emily Griffin), the actual career advice Shigley offers feels more redundant than innovative, even at times bordering on the nonsensical. At one point, for instance, Shigley tells readers that when faced with the dilemma of choosing between a pantsuit and a skirt suit, go for the skirt, as most employers still expect women to wear dresses and the like to work over their “masculine” counterpart. This advice is ridiculous, and what is even more disappointing is that such a mind-boggling tip is briefly glossed over without any supporting statistics, facts, polls, or research.
It figures that in a book written for women there would be an entire middle section devoted to just beauty and fashion tips, which is certainly appropriate given Shigley’s belief that the way you present yourself is half the battle to getting where you want to be in life. But Shigley, by no means a beauty or fashion expert, can’t seem to distinguish for herself what qualifies as inappropriate attire in the office, condemning black stockings as suggestive of prostitution, another baffling conclusion unsupported by hard facts and real evidence. There are other strange, if not unnecessary, sections of the book which describe at length different exercise positions, including a protracted step-by-step guide on how to do a pushup. Shigley would have been much better off providing diagrams or pictorials of these exercise moves rather than undertaking the nearly impossible task of explaining how to do a standing lunge. Her beauty tips and glossary of beauty-related terms are equally ridiculous. At one point, the reader might be tempted to just pause and wonder, “Who in this day and age doesn’t know what dyeing your hair means? Who doesn’t know how to do a pushup?”
Though the beauty and fashion section of the book proved the most exhausting part to get through, the rest of the work was unfortunately no better. More often than not, Shigley seems totally unaware of the insulting nature of her advice. She claims that she is against the use of feminine sexuality to win over what remain largely testosterone-dominated offices, but her tips would suggest otherwise. In the third section of the book, Shigley suggests that suppressing your feminine side does include “using your sweet nature to cajole a better deal,” a phrase that could be worded infinitely better with less emphasis on the “sweet nature” that she assumes all women, simply by being female, must possess. The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide is in more ways than one a step back for career books aimed specifically at a female audience.
While the book does encourage women to negotiate better deals for themselves (in terms of maternity leave, salary, and benefits), the messages Shigley’s book sends are far too mixed and muddled to effectively encourage women to become the movers and shakers of their office. Readers may be left with the same question they began with: “What is a Go-Getter Girl?” The Go-Getter Girl, according to Shigley, is bright, talented, and strategic about her career. Perhaps inadvertently, Shigley also suggests that a Go-Getter Girl is manipulative, fake, and unafraid to use her femininity to get what she wants, making this book more a setback for hard-working women in the office than the tool for career advancement it desperately wants to be.
By Christine Stoddard
With words like “acne,” “drama,” and “hormones” bobbing in the waters, nobody ever said puberty was an easy sea to navigate. But Arielle Eirienne’s book, The You Behind the Mascara, promises girls that life doesn’t have to be a shipwreck. This self-described “growing-up guide for teenage girls” encourages young women to sail through high school and college with confidence, optimism, curiosity, and strength.
Eirienne’s smart advice ranges from “Focus on your heart” to “Transform fear into courage” to “Always choose purpose” to much, much more. Her tone dips into both the entertaining and the profound as she touches upon a variety of topics. Erienne explores everything from college to grad school to jobs to studying abroad to romance. Whether you, your friend, or your daughter needs advice about unlocking your personal potential or re-bounding after a break-up, the answer lies within these pages. Maybe it’s not a definite, logical, scientifically measurable answer, but it’s a helpful, soothing answer nonetheless–the kind of answer that urges you to take advantage of life’s natural ebbs and flows. You don’t have to stay stranded on that deserted island forever!
At thirty-six pages, this clever book teaches girls of a certain age to laugh, love, and live–happily and intelligently but not frivolously. It may be a fast read, but it’s a worthwhile one. Treat it like a compass and you’ll go far.
[The You Behind the Mascara (ISBN 978-0-557-09624-4) by Arielle Eirienne is currently available for purchase on Lulu.com.]
Autobiographies are tricky because the good ones a) tell the truth, b) that truth is interesting to an audience and c) it is conveyed so to keep the audience interested. That may seem like an obvious statement, but certain things—like ego, insincerity and make-believe—just don’t belong in the genre. Andre Agassi’s book “Open” is a good autobiography. It’s also an intriguing and shocking read. Relationships, racquets and crystal meth—Agassi lays it all on the table to tell the story of how tennis both shaped who he became and prevented him from discovering himself.
The man’s name will go down in tennis history. Andre Agassi. He’s won all four major tournaments and an Olympic gold metal, and he played far past the retirement age of most tennis players, coming back from numerous slumps. He was the wild child player of the 80s. But very few knew that his career boiled down to two basic things: loneliness and hatred.
Agassi was born in Las Vegas and from the day he was able to hold a tennis racquet, he’s been holding a tennis racquet. But number one in the world was his father’s dream for him. In chapter one, we’re introduced to the Andre pictured on the back cover—seven years old and spending hours on the back yard tennis court hitting balls fired by the ball machine he calls “The Dragon.” He learned tennis was more important to the people around him than school, a realization that would later propel him to found and fund a school that encouraged learning of all kinds.
Throughout his book, Agassi refers back to tennis as the loneliest sport. He says tennis is the only sport where you don’t have physical or even vocal contact with your opponent or with your “team.” You have only yourself in a box on a court and no one else comes in that box. He confesses how much he hates playing and the constant struggle between wanting it to be completely over and not being able to let go. His portraits of the Andres across the years are sincere and unsettling as he allows the reader to discover the boy caught in a world of fame and mind games. He relives his relationship with Brooke Shields and his nearly life-long crush on Stephanie Graf, who he would eventually marry. Agassi has said it wouldn’t be worth writing “Open” if he wasn’t going to be unabashedly open about his life. And he is, especially concerning his most important friendships and the lowest points of his life.
“Open” is a collaboration between Agassi and J.R. Moehringer, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, though Agassi’s name is alone on the cover. Together, they create a simple, striking style. There are no quotation marks and when there’s no need to describe the logistics of getting from one place to another, there’s no description. The writing, like Agassi’s tennis and his personality, is graceful and strong.
A solid ace.
By Ali Coad
It’s easy to get caught up in the absentmindedness of life. We go though the day habitually, without really thinking about what’s happening. Wake up, brush your teeth, head off to school or work, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep, and repeat the mindless activities again the next day. But who really wants to go through life this way? Anna Quindlen, novelist and columnist, offers a remedy to the monotony of everyday life in her book, “A Short Guide to a Happy Life.”
Quindlen admits that she is unqualified to give advice; nonetheless, she serves the reader with a full helping of ways to fully appreciate life and all of its possibilities. She uses insightful observation and personal experience to create a rough blueprint for anyone to lead a happy life. She quotes some of the greats to express what she means; among the list is John Lennon, who was quoted saying, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
Life is happening now. This moment; and once we appreciate and fully understand this, then we can begin to actually live it. It is amazing how quickly time passes, and enjoy each moment, because before you know it, it’s gone.
Over the holidays my uncle made a toast, though it was cheesy, I could completely appreciate it’s message, “ Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why we call it the present.” I’m not sure who the first person was who said this, but this phrase best explains the message of the book.
Quindlen writes, “ I suppose the best piece of advice I could give anyone is pretty simple: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house… Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes…Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present.”
Quindlen’s book is about appreciating the now, because that is all we’re ever guaranteed in life. A new year offers new opportunities to change old patters or create new habits. Challenge yourself to live life in the present, stop fretting about the past and worrying about the future. It’s liberating and limitless; a life like this offers one the chance to be truly happy.
By Courtney Miller
So opens The Secret of the Old Clock, the first classic book in the Nancy Drew Mystery Series. Today, the bright yellow hardcover stories line the shelves of every major bookstore. Women, from young girls to grown adults, are familiar with the eager, titian-haired amateur detective.
But wait…in the original first novel, published in April 1930, things were a little bit different. Nancy was an attractive girl of sixteen driving her new, blue roadster. And she was blonde. Could something as simple as a change in hair color or type of car be the key to Nancy’s lingering fame?
Yes, it could. Nancy Drew has seen new cars, dress style, cover artists, locations and even a new age in the 70 plus years since her first publication. She has altered as decades alter; an idea born during the golden age of Hollywood first faced war in the 1940s and then saw youth culture change and take shape.
The Birth of an Independent
The character of Nancy Drew was born not out of a woman’s mind but from a man fast cornering the children’s book market in the late 1920s. Edward Stratemeyer pitched the idea of a female detective series to Grosset & Dunlap, the publisher of Stratemeyer’s popular Hardy Boys mystery series. Targeting the young girls who also read the Hardy Boys, Stratemeyer would give them a strong, female role model. For him, it was just a business model. Nancy would keep girls reading and keep them buying.
A slew of writers hosted the pen name Carolyn Keene to write Nancy Drew adventures, beginning with Mildred Writ Benson. Benson created the fiercely independent sleuth who would solve over 350 mysteries. And so we were given the blonde sixteen year-old daughter of a small town lawyer.
Off on an Adventure
Nancy Drew solves many of her cases in or around her hometown of River Heights, a fictional mid-western town with enough friendly neighbors and unfriendly strangers for Nancy to keep her amateur detective nose busy. Today, readers aren’t used to reading about towns like River Heights. Living with such social warmth and relative fearlessness is a relic of the past for many people. As caution and paranoia left the clipped suburban bushes exposed, River Heights wouldn’t have been able to meet the realistic day-to-day standards. So Nancy traveled more, to California, New York, France and even an adventure behind the Iron Curtain in the 1980s.
Inside of a 1960 publication of the third book, The Bungalow Mystery, it reads, “This new story for today’s readers is based on the original of the same title.” It is important to recognize that Nancy hasn’t simply changed through the course of the series; she’s been rewritten for the new demands. That’s why, depending on your age, you remember a blonde, dress-suited Nancy. Or a strawberry-blond Nancy with a casual blouse. Or even one wearing jeans and driving a dark blue convertible.
There are three underlying reasons why the young sleuth has mesmerized generations–the three reasons the world has needed Nancy to keep up with it.
One: she is independent like no other. She does often solve mysteries with the help of her cousins Bess and George, or her boyfriend Ned. But Nancy is a leader with a natural instinct for catching the bad guy. She goes out and does the dirty work. It doesn’t matter if it is trailing cars to gypsy camps or making a last minute informative call from her cell phone. Or pulling a bait and switch, tricking countless villains.
Two: she can escape any kidnapping situation. No matter how many times she is bound with rope and tossed in the back of a car or down a secret passage, Nancy will find a way to free herself and still solve the mystery at the same time. Smart and resourceful.
Three: she doesn’t have to do it. Amateur detective, no pay. Nancy always wants to help people. Even if she’s just met them, she insists on discovering the secret stash of treasure an ancestor hid and deliver the current family from monetary troubles. A lost inheritance. A lost parent. A ghost haunting.
Certain role models fade as they grow up and embody different, new ideas. Nancy’s base character is consistent—her passion and her goodness always there. A role model for any girl.
Simon & Schuster is still publishing the original series, though many are revised editions from the 1950s or later. They also publish the Nancy Drew: Girl Detective series where Nancy has become a completely modern young woman. And Nancy has discovered the computer…or, rather, the computer has discovered her.
Her Interactive Inc. has been developing and publishing Nancy Drew adventure mystery games for the PC since 1998. With titles like Treasure in the Royal Tower and Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, Nancy is often traveling to solve a friend’s problem. In these games, the player takes on the role of Nancy. She does the legwork, talking to suspects and investigating clues. She escapes life or death situations. She solves the mystery.
She becomes Nancy Drew.
(PHOTOS: COURTNEY MILLER)
By Courtney Miller
There are books that do more than suck you in. The full sensory portrait envelops you. You taste the description and every ounce of your body insists you’ve been transported to another place. Then that place is powerful enough to become its own character. It surges with life, with madness and excitement and mystery. The artist has done her job, found a way to loose the desires from the bound pages.
Marina Fiorato welcomes you to Venice.
Venice is the eternal place of magic and mystery—a city floating on water. Casanova, Carnivale, doges, lace and glass. The latter Fiorato explores in her first novel, The Glassblower of Murano. Like her author, the main character is half-Venetian. Leonora Manin leaves her divorced English life for the Italian islands to search out the secrets of her famous glass-blowing ancestor, Corradino Manin. Murano is the island in the Venetian lagoon where glass is blown; jealousy made it a virtual prison for the maestros and their secrets. Corradino was the most talented maestro of the 15th century, at least according to Fiorato’s history of Venice. Many characters are fictional creations but it’s hard to tell when the real history ends and hers begins.
Corradino escaped commissioned death as a boy and found a salvation, though terrible, on Murano. His skill and his glass secrets kept him alive in the city that had betrayed his family. Later, he began working with the French in secret, daring his life and preparing to sell his methods to save himself and keep an even greater secret he’d been hiding. Leonora soon finds herself carried into his world of glass monkeys and maestros. A glassblower on the island embraces her family name and her talent, causing disdain for this woman in a man’s learned profession. Leonora longs to understand Corradino and she often senses his presence, but she begins to uncover centuries of familial mysteries and betrayals. Shaken even more by the way her life begins to mirror her mother’s own dream-like Italian past and a father who never existed, she clings to Corradino and the glass she blows.
But it is the way Fiorato captures the enchanted city of linked canals that makes The Glassblower of Murano impossibly alluring. Transitioning between Corradino’s Venice and Leonora’s time, Fiorato recreates Venice for the reader to experience. You’ll yearn for the smoky-hot, silver-sweat-filled fireholes where the maestros touch their lips and breath life into the glass. For the insider’s Venice, away from the tourists and the kitschy glass trinkets. The past brings alive a story of loss, glass assassin knives and a haunted man. The interwoven present line is a story of a lost woman, a glass heart and a need for happiness in unfathomable circumstances.
(PHOTO: ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN)