Trixie Belden: The Secret of the Mansion

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today is the end of week 5, so it's time for the end-of-the-week count:

This week:


PAGES - 1,869

Total for the year so far:


PAGES - 9,491

In the comments section for the book Girl Sleuth, angmc mentioned that she used to read Trixie Belden books as a child. I was in a bookstore a few days later and I found an original copy, from 1948, of the first book in the Trixie Belden series - so I decided to summon up my inner 12 year old again and read it.

Here's the description of today's book; "Trixie’s summer is going to be sooo boring with her two older brothers away at camp. But then a millionaire’s daughter moves into the next-door mansion, an old miser hides a fortune in his decrepit house, and a runaway kid starts hiding out in Sleepyside!"

Shallow thoughts on today's book:

I really enjoy the lack of exaggeration in the descriptions of books written for children. They don't even try to fill the back of the book with promises that we'll be moved to tears and be forever changed by the book - instead they use exclamation points to let us know just how exciting the book is !!! I find that preferable to empty promises that sound like they belong on an infomercial.

I could only find a picture of the cover of this book that was a 2003 edition. The cover to the edition I read looks much different - it has a really creepy looking house on the cover and a picture of Trixie that looks an awful lot like Molly Ringwald circa 1985. So that's pretty much how I pictured Trixie throughout the book. I also kept picturing the stable hand, Reagan, as looking like Ronald Reagen - for obvious reasons. After looking at the cover all day I now really want to watch For Keeps. I loved that movie as a child - and I'm still amazed that my mother let me watch it since it revolved around teenage pregnancy, and my mother was normally the kind who would make us sit behind the couch with pillows in front of our eyes during the parts of movies that would "give us the wrong ideas."

All the boys in the book have normal names like Brian and James and the girls all have stripper names like Trixie Belden and Honey Wheeler. I kept hoping that at some point sensible names would be revealed, and there would be some explanation as to why two young girls are going around with names that conjure up images of someone jumping out of the top of a cake - but, it never happened. It appears as if their names really are Trixie and Honey.

Trixie's not a very compassionate stripper. There is one scene where she's outside feeding the chickens and her dad tells her that he's going to kill two of the chickens that weekend so they can broil them for dinner. Trixie's response was, "Yummy-yum." Trixie, how could you? If she wasn't fictional I think she would be on the business end of a visit from PETA right about now.

I expected this book to be a lot like Nancy Drew, but it appears that solving mysteries is the only thing they have in common. Trixie is younger than Nancy (13 to Nancy's 16-18) and her family is poorer (no roadsters and expensive clothes for Trixie) - and Trixie Belden books seem to be grittier (0r more action packed, depending on how you look at it). Trixie's brother gets bit by a snake, her friend James shoots a rabid dog, and Trixie and her friends all get injured multiple times. Although it's hard to tell if they really are grittier than the original Nancy Drew because I read the later revised version (read: sanitized to please the PC parents who have decided their child must never come in contact with anything unpleasant in any way). I think I prefer when things aren't completely sanitized, although I am glad that "shooting of the dog" scene wasn't graphic.