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Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

The Island of Sea Women
Lisa See
The Deep
Alma Katsu
Progress: 73 %
Dear Life: Stories
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Progress: 175/336 pages
Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Progress: 28 %
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
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100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories
Gary Raisor, Richard Chizmar, Al Sarrantonio, Avram Davidson
Progress: 70/512 pages
Leading Change
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Peanuts Classics
Charles M. Schulz
Progress: 66 %
The Bungalow Mystery
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Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery #3
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages

The Secret of the Old Clock - ND1.1

The Secret of the Old Clock - Russell H. Tandy, Sara Paretsky, Carolyn Keene The Secret of the Old Clock - Carolyn Keene

Reading Hunger for Knowledge’s Nancy Drew post has revived an old project of mine. The girl detective is a part of my childhood that I have always looked fondly back on. I kept all the Nancy Drews that I stole from my big sister and added to my collection with every birthday and Christmas. I read them in random order, but was never able to read them all. As an adult, I discovered the story behind something that always had puzzled me. Nancy wasn’t always the same from one book to another, enough so that sometimes she seemed almost a completely different person. And, although they all seemed to follow the same formula, some books were much better than others. The reason was that, not only were the books ghost written by several different authors under the Carolyn Keene pseudonym, books 1-34 were completely rewritten starting in the 1950’s. The new versions are shorter, have cleaned up the gross racism and stereotypes, and sweetened Nancy up. A few have entirely different plots, sharing only the title with the original.


I had begun to collect both versions of the books just for the fun of it, not actually reading the books I acquired. I began to wonder how they would compare if read side-by-side. Then my niece, who writes YA, started kicking around some ideas about a modern century take on a girl detective series, and I began to wonder what that might look like, given how many plot devices and sticky situations Nancy had to get herself out of that would be obsolete given today’s technology. I embarked on this project but got sidetracked halfway through, and never finished it. I’m feeling motivated to take it on again, just to amuse myself and to satisfy my curiosity.  I'm starting with my old notes.


Reading the 1930 & 1959 versions of The Secret of The Old Clock simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!


1930 Ch1: Nancy is catty about the Topham sisters, demands information from her father, and is determined to find a new will so the nasty Tophams don't get their way. 1959 Ch1: Nancy rescues a little girl, is touched by the old ladies' sob story, and rushes off to catch the thieves who stole their silver while buying their old furniture.


1930 Ch2: Nancy is amused and appalled as she observes the Topham sisters abusing a shopgirl and finds out more about Josiah at lunch w dad. 1959 Ch2: Nancy loses the thieves she was chasing, later asks her dad about Josiah over dinner. She "questions" and "begs" for info vs. 1930 Nancy "demanding" info in same scenario. A curiosity: Ada Topham is described as tall and slender to the point of "skinny", obviously meaning unattractive. 1930 Nancy’s thoughts are catty, 1959 Nancy more restrained.


...to be continued


Index of posts for The Secret of the Old Clock: