18 October 2008

Jane Eyre in Iceland with an Umbrella

A~Z Reading Challenge “H” title: How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Red Dress Ink, 2006).

After her adulterous relationship with her employer reaches its heartbreaking end, nanny Charlotte Bell decides to take back her life by purchasing and reading all the original Nancy Drew books. Inspired by Nancy, Charlotte accepts a new position in the household of the U.S. Ambassador to Iceland.

When she arrives in Iceland, the novel becomes a contemporized Jane Eyre. Seriously. The Icelandic cast includes:
  • the housekeeper (Mrs. Fairly/Mrs. Fairfax)
  • Charlotte’s charge (Annette/Adèle)
  • her employer (Edgar Rawlings/Edward Rochester)
  • her employer’s dog(Captain/Pilot)
  • her employer’s wannabe wife (Bebe Iversdottir/Blanche Ingram)
Now, I like Jane Eyre, but I picked this book up because of its reference to Nancy Drew. I loved Nancy Drew as a child, and I was whacked over the head with a fit of nostalgia when I saw this title. Unfortunately, I’d have been better off re-reading one of those yellow jacketed novels as How Nancy Drew Saved My Life barely touches upon Nancy Drew. Indeed, my cynical self wondered if the author cribbed the Nancy Drew references straight from Wikipedia -- there’s no sense of love for the series. Mind you, much about Iceland could have been cribbed from a Wikipedia article, too.  Anyway, I wanted George and Bess, but ended up with Jane and Rochester. Fair enough.

As I said, I like Jane and Rochester and I was prepared to like this Jane Eyre In Iceland.  Alas, despite being a near copy of Jane Eyre, this novel just was not very interesting and the ending was so weird I felt as if I had stumbled into a whole different novel. I mean, Bebe Iversdottir/Blanche Ingram, Russian mafia spy? Rawlings/Edward Rochester, ex-CIA operative? Annette/Adèle, princess? How was I supposed to anticipate any of that??

Oh, well. At least I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Mabel Maney’s Nancy Clue books … time to re-read The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse!