Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Hidden Staircase

Finished The Hidden Staircase by Carolyne Keene, the second Nancy Drew mystery, published in 1930. Nancy sleuths alone, carries a revolver and is pretty damn bold. This book was a reissue of the original text, printed by Applewood Books.

I pulled out my childhood edition of The Hidden Staircase to make comparisons and found that the 1959 revision of the text bears little resemblance to the original. Like The Secret of the Old Clock this book is riddled with racial stereotypes that make one cringe. This second book, however, was much more exciting than the first in the series.

Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for a number of writers who worked on the series, but most of the first twenty-five Nancy Drew books were written by Mildred Wirt Benson.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Julie & Julia

Finished Julie & Julia in anticipation of the film's release in August. The film is based on this book and Julia Child's memoir My Life in France which I finished in August 2007, just prior to beginning this reading blog.

Julie & Julia chronicles Julie Powell's attempt to cook every recipe in Childs' Mastering the Art of French Cooking while blogging about her efforts. Compared to most of the books I've read in the last few years this is quite contemporary. It has all the angst, drinking, smoking and swearing of Bridget Jones' Diary, but it has something else as well. It has a sense of tangible accomplishment. Powell, a recovering theater geek, turned temp, turned permanent secretary, learns that she is capable of great and fearsome things. Not only do her cooking skills excel during the project, but her writing skills do as well. This book is very personal and very funny.

I'd have to say that of the two books I really prefer My Life in France. It's charming and equally as funny, but perhaps in a different way.