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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Bibeau, Paul: Sundays with Vlad | Main | Announcing the Love of Reading Online Book Fair »

Cain, Chelsea: Confessions of a Teen Sleuth

  

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Bloomsbury © 2005, 160 pages
4 stars

Note: I read this book in part for The Sunday Salon. See these related posts: chapters 4-5, chapter 6, and chapter 7.

Chelsea Cain's Confessions of a Teen Sleuth purports to be the posthumously published memoirs of titian-haired teen sleuth Nancy Drew. Nancy wrote the book to correct some popular misconceptions about herself: it seems that Carolyn Keene, Nancy's college roommate-turned-unauthorized biographer, played fast and loose with the facts. Nancy records a different adventure from her life in each of the book's ten chapters. We watch her age--while remaining stylish--against a backdrop of 20th-century history, from internment camps to the Red Scare to hippies and feminists. Along the way we learn some shocking information about Nancy's mother and about the Drew's long-time housekeeper Hannah Gruen, as well as about Nancy herself (hint: the book is dedicated to Frank Hardy, the elder Hardy boy).

[INSET TEXT: Nancy still loves a good mystery--maybe a little too much--and she is wont to incorporate a bit of excitement into her otherwise humdrum, post-teen-sleuthing life whenever she can.] Cain writes in the earnest style of the series, with endearingly outdated lingo. And her characters never just say anything: they cry gaily and explain mechanically and muse fretfully. Nancy, meanwhile, though no saint (her early parenting is more reminiscent of Britney Spears than June Cleaver) remains naive enough that her juxtaposition with the real world is amusingly jarring:

"When my plane landed in San Francisco, I collected my old blue suitcase and got in line for a shuttle bus. As you may be aware, at that time San Francisco was a great gathering place for young people from all over the country. These young people grew their hair long and wore untailored, unironed clothing. While I had briefly encountered bohemian types shoplifting at Burk's, I was looking forward to experiencing the counterculture firsthand. I had stood in line only a few minutes when I was approached by one of its representatives."

Nancy still loves a good mystery--maybe a little too much--and she is wont to incorporate a bit of excitement into her otherwise humdrum, post-teen-sleuthing life whenever she can:

"'It seems as if you're avoiding your husband. You don't enjoy cooking. Or cleaning. You barely garden.'"

"'Oh, Hannah,' I smiled. 'That's silly. You're talking about last weekend. I couldn't go to Ned's office party. I had to rescue Ned Junior from the old well in the backyard.'"

"'But how did he get in the well?'"

"'I lowered him. We were playing 'rescue from the old well.''"

Cain plays with the fictional/real-life divide not only by breathing life into Nancy and other literary characters--the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift all make appearances, for example. But she also makes Carolyn Keene, the fictional "author" of the Nancy Drew mysteries, a real but untrustworthy reporter. Nancy and Keene cross paths toward the end of the book, and in an interesting scene we see the line between fiction and fact further blurred.

You'd have to be well-steeped in Nancy Drew lore to appreciate all the in-jokes in Chelsea Cain's clever, charming parody. But even if you haven't read a Nancy Drew novel in decades--or at all--you'll enjoy the read.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments

1.

It's been more than two decades, at least, since I read a Nancy Drew book. Closer to three. I'm not sure I'd seek this out, but if I found it at the library I'd give it a read!




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.