This month's pick for the Classic Read along with the Midnight Garden was Trixie Belden: The Secret of the Mansion. You can follow along or join in the discussion at http://www.themidnightgarden.net or #tmgreadalong on Twitter.
From Goodreads: "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!"
I had never heard of this series before, so I was happy to see it was selected. I'm always up for a re-read, but it's also nice to see the books that I might have missed out on growing up. The Trixie Belden series was written sometime in the 1940's, it seems to have had great popularity during that time as there are something like thirty-eight books in the series. It has that classic charm to it that I like. The kind of book where the kids can go out to play, the doors are left unlocked and parents give their kids chores to do in order to make spending money to save up for a horse (yeah Trixie wants a horse). It's funny, but as I was reading Trixie and Honey used some of the same superstitions that I had growing up, don't go swimming after you've just eaten, if you're ever bitten by a copperhead be sure to suck out the venom and bad things always happen in threes. Anyone else hear these growing up? I've always wondered about the whether the swimming one really was true.
I'm not sure what I expected The Secret of the Mansion to be about, maybe a book written somewhat like the Nancy Drew series with some mystery to solve. There was a little mystery that begins after Trixie's dad ends up taking their grumpy neighbor to the hospital. But, the mystery mostly centers on where their grumpy neighbor might have hidden his fortune. It's not quite the same kind of mystery that you would find in a Nancy Drew novel. It also seems to be geared toward a younger audience than the Nancy Drew books. Not to say that I didn't enjoy it, because I really did, I really think I would have loved reading Trixie as a kid. I was always into adventures, and Trixie sure does seem to get herself in plenty of predicaments.
Trixie's older brothers are away at camp, so we don't really get to meet them in this book, but Trixie does have a younger brother who provides for some exciting moments. He's so adorably cute too. Love how he still has that baby language going for him too. "I'm thirsty and hung-gry! Holp!" Now that a new girl (Honey) has moved in the Manor House up the way, Trixie is pretty excited that she will have someone her age to spend her summer with. Especially, since Honey has horses and promised to teach her how to ride, if Trixie will teach her how to ride a bicycle. The two quickly become inseparable. It really is a sweet friendship that I suspect will continue in further books. Somehow, Trixie and Honey reminded me of reading Heidi. Honey comes from a rich family and at the beginning of the book she is rather frail, kind of like Clara was until she met Heidi. It isn't until Trixie begins spending time with Honey that she begins to take more risks and really begins to thrive and develop a confidence in herself. I just couldn't help thinking about how Heidi was instrumental in helping Clara, it had that sort of feel to it for me.
The actual mystery comes to light as the two girls sneak over to the Belden's neighbors house, there they find Jim, the great-nephew of their neighbor. After his stepfather treats him badly, he runs away to stay with his great-uncle, but now that he is in the hospital, he really has no place else to go. Trixie and Holly vow to find a way to help Jim escape his mean stepfather, and they think the best plan is to try to find his great-uncle's hidden money. It's not all searching around the house though. There are plenty of picnics, sneaking food over to Jim, horseback and canoe rides, and lovely sleepovers, which just add to the charm of the story. Overall, this was a great introduction to Trixie Belden and hopefully someday I will get the chance to pickup another book in the series to read.
Have you read any of the Trixie Belden mysteries?