Inspiration by Nancy Drew

Independent: The fictional teen-age detective was a childhood favorite of the U. S. attorney for Maryland

Reading Life

September 10, 2000|By NANCY KNISLEY | NANCY KNISLEY,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

As a girl, Lynne A. Battaglia says she read the typical childhood books. But the U.S. attorney for Maryland has no difficulty naming her favorite character.

"Nancy Drew," she declares without hesitation, saying the fictional teen-age detective was a role model. "Nancy Drew represented the woman that I wanted to be. She had integrity, she spoke her mind."

Battaglia, 50, who grew up near Buffalo, N.Y., says she came from a background in which a woman was considered accomplished if she married and had children. She didn't know anyone like Nancy Drew.

"Nancy Drew was independent of the male mystique," Battaglia says. "She operated on her own."

While it was Nancy Drew's father, and not Nancy, who was a lawyer in the long-running series, Battaglia says the resourceful girl sleuth influenced her choice of careers. "I always wanted to be a lawyer. I loved solving problems and puzzles, and I said, 'Nancy does that.'"

And it didn't hurt that her favorite Nancy Drew novel, "The Hidden Staircase," revolved around an interior staircase much like the one in her childhood home. She says she fantasized that her house was the one in the story and that she was Nancy Drew.

Battaglia has had a love of reading for as long as she can remember. "Reading took me places where I was a different person, in a different setting, dealing with different issues," she says.

Her mother read to her from the time she was born, she says, and had books everywhere. "It instilled in me what I hope I've instilled in my son, the value of reading," she says.

Recalling her grown son's childhood, she says, "I don't remember a night when I didn't read to Scott." She says he loved "Green Eggs and Ham," "Are You My Mother?" and "The Little Engine That Could."

But Battaglia says that learning to read did not come easily to her son. When the boy was young, a baby sitter noticed that he was not reading, but pretending to read books that he had memorized. An evaluation revealed that he had dyslexia. He was in a specialized program for years. "The best present he ever gave me is when I saw (him) go out and buy a book," Battaglia says.

She is still an avid reader, with wide interests. She might have outgrown Nancy Drew, but she loves a good mystery or thriller. Faye Kellerman and Dean Koontz are among her favorite authors, and her summer reading list included "Deep South" by Nevada Barr. "Tough Cookie" by Diane Mott Davidson and "Moment of Truth" by Lisa Scottoline.

Battaglia confesses that she prefers to tackle material such as historical fiction in audio, rather than in print. Among the recorded books she's listened to while in the car are Donna Gabaldon's "Outlander" series and Irving Stone's novels about Freud and Lincoln.

But she remains a fan of the printed word - "I have too many books in the house piled up," she says. And by way of explanation. she repeats one of her mother's sayings: "You may not go to Egypt, but you can read about Egypt."

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