A couple of days ago, I read a Nancy Drew book called, "The Clue of the Dancing Puppet." Prior to this, I had never read any book in the series. I was interested in reading one, because my mother used to read them. Anyway, I know it was written in the 50s, but damn, these books are problematic.
Nancy Drew, the amateur detective protagonist, is often described as "titian blond and attractive." Her looks are always more than apparent. There is this definite hair-color hierarchy in the book with Nancy's friend Georgia being the only brunette.
Nancy comes from a very privileged background. The reader understands this quickly as it states that her father, Carson Drew, is a lawyer. Her mother died when she was three, and thus, have a housekeeper named Hannah Gruen. There is definite classism appearing in the Drew household (and elsewhere, really). Nancy doesn't work or go to school.
The issue of classism runs rampant as does the issue of racism. There are no characters of color as far as I can tell, and the book cover, let's face it, leaves little to the imagination of what Nancy herself looks like.
Though it's a bit feminist in that Nancy is a detective (a stereotypical men's vocation back in the 50s), I have difficulty liking her. She comes across as snobby and oh so privileged, and she's always helping those "beneath" her. I also resent that her beauty is, well, her trademark--along with the sleuthing. I realize this is more of an issue with the writing, but none the less, it damages her character in some ways. Her beauty is always first; her detective skills second. I'm not down with that.
Next, I'm interested in reading one of the Trixie Belden books, because as my mother tells me, she's more of a tomboy and isn't wealthy like Nancy (though Trixie befriends the wealthy girl next door at some point). I think it'll be interesting to compare the two books, since they are quite similar.