Thursday, August 2, 2012

E-Reading: Book Review of #2 The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene

Name of Book: The Hidden Staircase

Author: Carolyn Keene

ISBN: 9780448095028

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Part of a Series: Nancy Drew Mysteries

Type of book: 1900s, hidden staircases, girl detective, ambitious, old houses

Year it was published: 1930


In the beginning of "Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase" Nancy gets a summary call from her friend Helen Corning and is introduced to the Mrs. Flora Turnbull and Mrs. Rosemary Hayes, by Helen, who is the great- grand-daughter of Miss Flora and great niece of Aunt Rosemary. Miss Flora believes that their home, Twin Elms Mansion, is haunted. Nancy agrees to help solve the mystery of Twin Elms when a man named Nathan Gomber tells Nancy that her father, Carson Drew,is in grave danger. Nancy tells her father this and he says that Gomber is just a little rat and trying to throw him off by making him worried about danger and not focusing on the new railroad he is helping to get finished. Mr. Drew tells Nancy to go to Twin Elms and help the Miss Flora and Mrs.Hayes. He also says he will be traveling to Chicago during the first part of Nancy's stay at the old estate and join her later.


In this book Nancy is the vital, independent lady who is ready to face danger and try to rescue her father as well as figure out the mystery. Nothing at all changes about her in the novel and no character growth can be witnessed. One thing that I did like about the book is minimal physical description of Nancy. (No sixteen inch waist or whatnot,) which might be a relief for young ladies who can't measure up to the standard. Nancy could be described as a strong feminist character encouraging young ladies to be both independent as well as enjoy being a female. (No put downs of those who like domestic activities.)


Girls can solve mysteries


This is written completely from Nancy's point of view in third person narrative. The chapters all have cliff hangers to keep the reader reading. While it is interesting, I felt that I couldn't understand this book in someways, and I also realized that I was trying to watch for Nancy's growth or whatnot in the series.

Author Information:

Children's Books, Mystery & Thrillers

About this author

Carolyn Keene is a writer pen name that was used by many different people- both men and women- over the years. The company that was the creator of the Nancy Drew series, the Stratemeyer Syndicate, hired a variety of writers. For Nancy Drew, the writers used the pseudonym Carolyn Keene to assure anonymity of the creator.

Edna and Harriet Stratemeyer inherited the company from their father Edward Stratemeyer. Edna contributed 10 plot outlines before passing the reins to her sister Harriet. It was Mildred A. Wirt Benson, who breathed such a feisty spirit into Nancy's character. Mildred wrote 23 of the original 30 Nancy Drew Mystery Stories®, including the first three. It was her characterization that helped make Nancy an instant hit. The Stratemeyer Syndicate's devotion to the series over the years under the reins of Harriet Stratemeyer Adams helped to keep the series alive and on store shelves for each succeeding generation of girls and boys. In 1959, Harriet, along with several writers, began a 25-year project to revise the earlier Carolyn Keene novels. The Nancy Drew books were condensed, racial stereotypes were removed, and the language was updated. In a few cases, outdated plots were completely rewritten.

Other writers of Nancy Drew volumes include Harriet herself, she wrote most of the series after Mildred quit writing for the Syndicate and in 1959 began a revision of the first 34 texts. The role of the writer of "Carolyn Keene" passed temporarily to Walter Karig who wrote three novels during the Great Depression. Also contributing to Nancy Drew's prolific existence were Leslie McFarlane, James Duncan Lawrence, Nancy Axelrod, Priscilla Doll, Charles Strong, Alma Sasse, Wilhelmina Rankin, George Waller Jr., and Margaret Scherf.


While this mystery was a little more exciting than the first one, I don't think I understood it well enough. In some ways the novel is interesting and full of tidbits, such as the way that a Colonial home was built, and although the danger is far more greater for Nancy, (her father being kidnapped for one,) some suspension of belief is required. (Just because you use a few well chosen words the men will bow down to you? Especially the dangerous suspects that have kidnapped your father?) In this book as well, Nancy is alone on a mystery and is blond haired. She is also daring and observant.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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