Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

So I've spent the weekend reading the original Nancy Drew books, and I'm maybe halfway through Mom's old collection (except for the books missing here and there, which we think are in a second box somewhere. Thirteen books into the series, I'm just brainwashed enough to wonder if I should go explore the attic for "clues"). Highlights so far include

  • The Quest of the Missing Map (Nancy finds buried treasure)

  • The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy helps two old spinsters, two young spinsters, two old bachelors and an orphan receive their rightful inheritances, all while making a evening dress torn by her rivals look "better on her than it did new")

  • The Password of Larkspur Lane (Nancy rescues a gaggle of rich old ladies from a scam sanatorium and wins a flower show)

  • The Secret at Shadow Ranch (Nancy knits, rides expertly, flirts with a cowboy and finds the lost treasure of outlaw Dirk Valentine. Yes, "Dirk Valentine")

  • Nancy's Mysterious Letter (Ned wins a championship football game singlehandedly and Nancy hangs out at his frat house. Believe it or not, this was written in the '30s. Also, she wins a costume party competition)

  • The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk (Nancy goes to South America on a cruise with Nestrelda Darlington, the most awesomely named minor character to ever exist)

  • The Sign of the Twisted Candles (Nancy settles a multigenerational family feud, saves an abused girl, and eats a lot of crackers)

  • The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion (Nancy survives a plane crash and is nearly eaten by wild animals)

  • The Clue in the Jewel Box (Nancy wins a fashion/modeling competition, discovers a lost formula for uncrackable enamel, and finds the lost prince of Not-Russia)

  • The Clue in the Old Album (Nancy prevents a gypsy overlord from becoming King of America)

  • The Mystery at Lilac Inn (Nancy goes on multiple "skin-diving" dates, watches her guest cottage get blown up by a time bomb, and is held prisoner on a submarine)

  • The Mystery of the Ivory Charm (Nancy brings the boy king of India back from the dead)

You think I'm making these up but I am totally, totally not. Hand to God. And I didn't even mention all the times that Nancy and/or her father get kidnapped, that Nancy (a 16- or 18-year old girl, depending on your edition) is threatened with bodily harm by criminals, that Nancy's expert driving saves her from natural disasters and/or being run off the road by villains, and that Bess complains about being "fat" while taking a second sandwich/cookie/piece of cake. Also, George REALLY LIKES having a boy's name. Did you know that? Because she does, you know.

And speaking of the different editions, they're hilarious. I'm not sure which I like better--the older 25-chapter versions, which are more detailed and effusive but also contain lots of "colored" maids and porters who say dem and dat, or the post-1954 20-chapter versions, which are quicker and less descriptive (but also less cheerfully racist). On one hand, Nancy's kind of high and mighty in the earlier books, not to mention obsessed with fur coats; the newer versions have a gentler, sweeter Nancy. On the other, the newer versions shoo Helen Corning off to marry Jim Archer, whereas in the old versions she's just with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend Buck Rodman. And Nancy's hair color fluctuates from "blond" to "Titian blond" regardless of edition, as far as I can tell; I think I have her in my mind as reddish-blond(e), so I'll stick with that.

Also, current house catastrophe: the air conditioner died. Fortunately, we were able to have Evans come out--yes, on a Sunday--and fix it tout de suite, no charge. "The sweetest words in the English language," said Mom, "are service contract." ("Really? I thought it was refund." "That too.")

Meanwhile, I would appreciate it if someone could explain to my sister that seventy degrees is NOT "cold." And I can't even go sleep down in the rec room where it's actually tolerable, because we seem to be a spring break youth hostel now.

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Tags: books, nancy drew

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