Monday, March 2, 2015

A Classic Children's Novel

The Independence of Nan by Nina Rhoades
Published, August 1916

"I must just try to make the best of things."

That is 15-year-old orphan Nan Howard's motto when her grandfather dies leaving all his money to her step-grandmother, Mrs. Barnes. Soon after, Nan is shipped off to stay with her Uncle James and Aunt Maud, whom she's never met; they are kind, but they have four children of their own and no real room for Nan in their cramped house. Still, Nan tries to stay cheerful and help out her cousins. "I will try to be just as little trouble as I can." Needing money, Nan becomes a companion to the sad little crippled girl next door whom she teaches to play 'the glad game' (from Eleanor Porter's popular Pollyanna, which was published in 1913). But change is on the horizon for this plucky heroine. There's a mystery to solve, a new adventure to be had, a near-drowning, something sad and something glad.

This novel, with its optimism and its old-fashioned values, is sweetly predictable, but I think that's why I liked it so much. I like that Nan is not only "a brick", but "kind-hearted" and "as true as steel", too. (Although I did roll my eyes when she was described as having a "housewifely soul".) And I like that no matter how many hardships come her way, she perseveres and ultimately triumphs. Her old-fashioned values still ring true with me. Maybe that's why I love so many of these classic children's novels. (And why I can't resist buying them when I find them.) So, here's to Nan Howard and all plucky heroines everywhere!

Happy Reading!

P.S. Not only is The Independence of Nan another book from off my TBR shelf that I've now read, but it also fills a category for me in this year's Back to the Classics Challenge ... a double bookish bonus!

8 comments:

  1. Old-fashioned values sound classic to me. This book seems like a refreshing break from the teenage-angst and love triangles that fill too many books today. And congrats on the double book bonus!

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    1. Thanks! This book was a refreshing change from life in general.

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  2. It's so nice sometimes to read books where characters are just nice! I love reading older children's classics with D like Five Children and It. We just started The Wizard of Oz. :)

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    1. I totally agree. And I love the Oz books. I owned all 14 of them growing up and I read them over and over again. Now I enjoy reading all the older children's books that I never even knew existed when I was a child.

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  3. Amy's remark about the difference between old-fashioned values and so many of the modern books for young people is interesting. Most adult readers remember Anne of Green Gables with great fondness, but I wonder if the Anne books will continue to appeal to young readers.

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    1. I wonder that, too. It's sad to think books like this one and the Anne books falling out of favor and disappearing from the shelves. I hope it never happens, but sometimes I'm afraid it will.

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  4. Thanks for this review. I'm not familiar with this author. The book sounds like a lovely read, and I also like plucky heroines!

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    1. I ran across this book by accident in a used bookstore; I'd never read the author before, but I really enjoyed this old-fashioned children's book. And I loved Nan. Thanks for commenting!

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