Friday, July 13, 2012

E-Reading: Book Review of #1 The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

Name of Book: The Secret of the Old Clock

Author: "Carolyn Keene"

ISBN: 1557091552

Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap

Part of a Series: Nancy Drew Mysteries

Type of book: Mysteries, lost will, young adult, strong feminism

Year it was published: 1930


In this first of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing will. Her search not only tests her keen mind but also leads her into a thrilling adventure. This volume presents the original, 1930 version of the story. In 1959 the story was rewritten and condensed and this original version went out of print.


The characters all remain the same pretty much. Nancy remains her resourceful forceful self where mysteries are always at a forefront, the villains got punished and the nice people won the day. In other words, no change passes through her personality. Other characters like the villains and heroes and Nancy's father strike me as stock characters than as real people.


I personally think its a good novel to give to a pre-teen, to instill in them a sense of confidence and whatever else because Nancy does get results. In a way its a feminist novel where a woman cares more for men and love, but instead is excited about the mystery and the prospect of solving it. Slight wonder that these novels have existed since 1930 and hadn't gone out of print.


While the plot was slightly intriguing, it was overly simplistic as well and neither the villains nor heroes were double faced. Probably from the first page you could already predict who will be the villains and whatnot. From the title too you could probably predict a major plot, although its interesting to see Nancy trying to get out of situations as well as her successes. This is written in third person narrative completely from Nancy's point of view.

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.


When I was a pre-teen I was kind of sort of interested in reading Nancy Drew mysteries, but I guess as an adult I was curious about them and have decided to start reading them again. For the adult in me, while the book was enjoyable, and there were some things that I did like, such as a strong female character and how helpful people were in River Heights, a lot of stuff struck me as hard to believe. Everything and everyone seemed to be too convenient in my opinion. Also, from the future novels, don't expect neither for George or Bess or the boyfriends to show up yet! (Nancy is also not yet a redhead but is blond.)

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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