the best friends you’ll never have

I went to Ann’s home town recently. It was fun because I am a nerd (duh) and it gave me an idea of what Stoneybrook looks like in Ann’s mind. Although of course, I was there NOW and not in the 1950s or 1960s. But it was nice to walk along the streets and to understand the layout of the town and compare it to how I imagine Stoneybrook.

The Stoneybrook-Fairfield County, Connecticut-Princeton, NJ relationship is a favorite subject of mine. I’ve written about it twice: here on the Princeton/New Jersey BSC connections and here, where I examined Fairfield.

Recall that for Stacey, the trip for New York City is mentioned somewhere (can’t remember which book) is stated as being 2 hours on the train. I actually went to the Metro North website and checked out the timetables, and a trip from Stamford to New York City takes between 43 minutes and 1 hour 9 minutes or so. The 2 hour time estimation, however, sounds far more accurate for the trip from PRINCETON to New York City. Again, I ask the question of Why didn’t Ann just stick Stoneybrook in New Jersey? I have only been in Connecticut briefly, but I do feel that Stoneybrook far better represents the area of New Jersey that Princeton is in more than it accurately depicts that particular corner of Connecticut.

I wish I had taken pictures when I was in Princeton to show you all, but I just didn’t think of it at the time. Next time I go there, I definitely will.

9 Responses To This Post

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caridee said, September 24th, 2011 at 8:54 am

Totally agree! I have relatives who live in Stamford (their areas is “upscale country,” like Martha Stewart-type place…and Martha Stewart does live not far away!), and relatives who live in a quaint little suburban town Northern Jersey with plenty of sidewalks, where kids can walk to school, and a little Main Street area, plenty of playgrounds, etc.

maculae said, October 4th, 2011 at 10:27 am

I think because Jersey has a reputation for being more down and shoddy whereas Connecticut definitely has more of the “New England uppity” reputation.

Eowyn said, October 19th, 2011 at 1:58 am

Thank you maculae, I was about to say something similiar. Whether justifiably or not, CT has a reputation of being less-diverse both economically and ethnically than New Jersey which would explain why there were so many rich people. I know Jessi was NOT an original character, you don’t have to tell me, but I think when introducing Jessi’s family being discriminated against it was more plausible given the location, so at least in this example the location did reinforce the storyline even if it was not that way initially. I did find it very strange that both Dawn and Stacy did not appear to have much interaction with people of different races or ethnic groups considering where they were from respectively.

greer said, October 19th, 2011 at 11:26 am

@maculae, @eowyn: There are parts of NJ that are EXTREMELY wealthy, though.

As far as Stacey and Dawn: Stacey was from a wealthy family (even though they didn’t mention it the way they did with Kristy) and went to a fancy private school. Think Gossip Girl. I don’t think she was Waldorf or van der Woodson-wealthy, of course, but I doubt her super-fancy private school was very diverse the way, say, an NYC public school would be. And I think Ann just had weird ideas about California in general, although they did add a lot more latin@ characters in CA Diaries.

Eowyn said, October 21st, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I so agree with Greer that Ann had “weird ideas about California in general.” I’ve lived in this state my whole life and even as a kid I thought Dawn and her life in CA was a combination of stereotypes about both the northern and southern areas. What next, was Dawn going to join a cult?

maculae said, November 4th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

@greer, No doubt there are very wealthy places in NJ. A lot of celebrities with TV shows in NY live in NJ or have “vacation homes” in NJ. But that doesn’t stop people from calling NJ the armpit of NY. Add to that the general “mob/gangster” reputation that Jersey had back then. Nothing says clean cut more than uppity New Englanders, which Connecticut is part of. Think Gilmore Girls, with less eccentricity and more negligent parents.

I think the difference between Watson being a “real life millionaire” and the Schafers or McGills is that he’s old money and they’re new money. And also, that was the only character trait he needed for Kristy to hate him.

@Eowyn & @Greer Ann’s views on California were hilarious. To the point where Mallory had to dye her hair blond because that’s what California girl means. Or Dawn her family and her friends’ extreme eating habits.

greer said, November 18th, 2011 at 4:28 am

@maculae: perhaps, but Ann also stuck Camden Falls in Massachusetts when it is based on her Upstate NY hamlet, and I don’t think New York has bad associations/stereotypes the way NJ does.

reader said, October 19th, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Perhaps I’m late to the conversation, but I live outside of Princeton and the commute via train from Penn Station in NYC to Princeton’s train station is just over an hour, so I’m not sure where the two hour estimate came from. However, I can tell you that there are numerous references to names in the BSC books of places/things that actually exist in the Princeton area. (The same goes for Ann M. Martin’s other books.) Names of businesses and such (either exact or slightly modified) appear throughout the series.

greer said, November 8th, 2013 at 7:33 am

@reader – When I’ve gone to Princeton I’ve usually gone up to Newark and then down again, and I also take the Jersey Shore train on a fairly regular basis and that one takes FOREVER, so perhaps that’s why I thought that it would be longer from Princeton to NYC.

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