WINNER of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel
'Funny, dark and above all, heart-warming, The Nancys is a celebration of what's important in life - which is family, friendship and also: makeovers. R.W.R. McDonald's novel is face-paced, clever and full of wit and repartee. McDonald pays homage to the novel's namesake Nancy Drew, but adds elements of RuPaul and Shirley Barrett's The Bus on Thursday. The result is a work of fiction that is smart, darkly comic and, in the very best of ways, completely bizarre.' - Katherine Collette, author of The Helpline
'A delight - moving and hilarious. I loved every minute I spent with these characters.' - Paddy O'Reilly
'How does The Nancys manage to be both sharp and blackly funny, but also uplifting and sweet?' - Toni Jordan
Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world - the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum's on a cruise.
Tippy is in love with her uncle's old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher's body is found beside Riverstone's only traffic light, Tippy's moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.
But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous. A wrongful arrest, a close call with the murderer, and an intervention from Tippy's mum all conspire against The Nancys. But regardless of their own safety, and despite the constant distraction of questionable fashion choices in the town that style forgot, The Nancys know only they can stop the killer from striking again.
The Nancys is gripping and glorious, a heart-warming novel for anyone who's ever felt they were on the outside looking in. At its heart it is about the family we make and how we must summon the courage to face the truth, no matter what the cost may be.
NZer who lives in Melbourne. Journo turned fiction writer. If he was a tabloid journo, there wouldn’t have been much turning involved. Attended Faber Academy Writing a Novel course in 2016, and ‘The Nancys’ received a highly commended for unpublished manuscript in the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. (The Victorian premier generates his fair share of fiction too). Please note, the Faber Academy is run by the publisher Allen & Unwin that took over Faber & Faber. It has nothing to do with the American college depicted in the movie ‘Animal House.’
Tippy Chan is an 11-year-old part-Chinese girl who lives in a small town in the far south of NZ. It’s nearly Christmas. Her Dad, to whom she was very close, died earlier in the year. (We learn how later in the book). Her Mum is a feisty RN (the Shaky Isles produce plenty of them) who has won a cruise in a raffle. She’s reluctant to go, but her brother Pike, who lives in Sydney, insists that he can look after Tippy. The brother is a bit of a black sheep (NZ joke), who fled his rural roots for the bright lights and hasn’t been home for many moons. He’s an antipodean version of Jonathan van Ness (the hair stylist in Queer Eye), and owns several salons as well as a night club. He brings with him his boyfriend Devon, who is a fashion designer. Pike was a big Nancy Drew fan back in the day, and handed on his Drewophilia (books mainly) to the Tipster. Wouldn’t you know it, someone gets murdered in Footrot Flats so Tippy and the boys investigate, to the chagrin of local law enforcement. Local myths get debunked, secrets are uncovered willy-nilly. The boys also find time to transform the hostile punk teenager next door into a beauty queen who wins the pageant at the local show. (The one for chicks, not the one for sheep.)
Tippy is a millennial Nancy Drew with a Kiwi accent. Pike and Devon are two-fifths of Queer Eye. The supporting cast verges on panto at times, but gets the job done.
Third person, principally from Tippy’s POV
Clear, crisp, amusing at times. Tries hard to be amusing at others.
Solid first effort with a distinct Kiwi flavour. If you like Flight of the Conchords and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, you’ll probably like this. If you didn’t, you should take a long hard look at yourself, pal.