Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nancy Drew #7 The Clue in the Diary

Norwegian edition
I find the storyline for the seventh Nancy Drew book, The Clue in the Diary, to be a bit choppy with not enough explanatory information. As I read the revised text, I felt that it was lacking and wondered whether the original text would be better. All of the complaints I had about the revised text were also true for the original text.

I do not feel the pain of Honey and her mother as much as I should. In my opinion, the book should have opened with Nancy and her friends actually at the amusement park so that we could have gotten to know Honey and her mother. Being shown why the girls fall in love with Honey and her mother is better than being told about it.

Nancy's first meeting with Joe Swenson is very rushed in the revised text. Joe trusts Nancy way too quickly, giving her money to mail to his wife. A point in favor of the revised text is that the revised text makes for a better case about why Mrs. Swenson is worried about her husband. In the revised text, Joe's letters to his wife have been stolen by a mail thief. In the original text, Joe has only been away for one week, and I feel no urgency for the Swenson family. Mrs. Swenson's worry comes across better in the revised text.

I did note one interesting revision. The original text, page 19, has the following passage.
"Why don't they stop honking their horns!" Nancy exclaimed impatiently. "It doesn't help a bit—it just drives one almost wild."

"We'll be here all night," George observed gloomily.
The same passage appears as follows in the revised text, page 13.
"Why don't they stop honking?" George exclaimed impatiently. "It doesn't help a bit. We'll be here all night!"
Nancy shows impatience in the original text, and we just couldn't have the perfect revised text Nancy be impatient at all. Instead, George expresses that emotion.

Overall, neither the original text nor the revised text is significantly better than the other. Since I feel that the mail fraud subplot added to the mystery of what had happened to Joe Swenson, I will vote in favor of the revised text as a slightly better story. However, I don't like either version very much.


Lauren said...

Granted I haven't picked up this book in awhile (because it is not one of my favorites) but I will always remember my disappointment in this one from when I first read it. The title sounded SO juicy and I guess I was expecting the "diary" to be a heck of a lot more interesting than just some inventions or whatever it actually was.

Which is neither here nor there, I guess, but it's the one thing that stands out to me. I remember that my friend had the whole yellow spine collection and I was so excited to get to pick out some to borrow and I chose this one first based on the title and then had a hard time actually getting into the story.

Laura said...

I've been finding your comparisons of original v. revised texts interesting. I've only read one or two original texts and I don't have the revised text versions of either to compare to.

Did you mean to skip Red Gate Farm?

I like this book because it introduces Ned but I thought the part about him moving Nan's car was just weird. Wouldn't she have parked far enough away to be sure the car wouldn't catch on fire? And how exactly did Ned start the car without keys anyway? (Unless Nancy left the keys in the car? Which just seems stupid to me.)

Jennifer said...

The car situation does seem a little odd.

I didn't mean to skip Red Gate Farm, and I'm glad you pointed that out. I did a write-up but somehow never published it. I can proofread it and publish it next.

mousecliffe said...

Car keys were only used to lock the car. You pressed the starter button to get the engine going. ANYONE could start any car unless the doors were locked. Ignition keys weren't used until after WWII. And if my reading materials reflect reality, lots of people just left their keys in the ignition even then. And often keys were interchangeable with other cars of the same make and model.
It sounds crazy now - "How could you possibly drive off with the wrong car!?" - but during the early days of automobiles, it wasn't that difficult.

Idylatoo said...

I, too, picked The Clue in the Diary as my first Nancy Drew book to read when I was 6 or 7 and had similar issues reading it. As a child just beginning to delve into mysteries, the cover certainly seems to promise a really good read - it just fails to deliver.

I enjoyed this book much more as an adult once I had more knowledge of history and inventions. As a child it was difficult to understand just what was so important about the inventions. Having learned more about the early development of rockets and other inventions related to the space race, it makes a lot more sense and is a much more engaging story.

It's interesting to me that this book is aimed at young girls and requires at least some passing knowledge/interest in science. Now a similar book would likely have the diary be salacious secrets rather than something scientific. And if it is something "brainy", it would be incredibly dumbed down and over-explained.

As a side note, I had a friend with an late 70s/early 80s model Buick and he could start it without even putting a key in the ignition.

Laura said...

Might be too late for you to read this, mousecliffe, but thanks anyway.

mousecliffe said...

It's never too late!

William Land said...

This is one of the Nancys of which I don't have srong feelings. I neither particularly liked or disliked the book. I agree with Jennifer that the story could have been made stronger if the reader got to see the three girls meeting Honey and her mother and bonding with the little tot.

I did, however, enjoy reading about Nancy meeting Ned for the first time and her reaction to his phone call (and she tossed her slipper about the room)and was excited about his evening visit (she asked Hannah to make a cake and to wear a new apron and cap) in the original story. She reacted appropriately by the teasing from Bess and George and her father about her feeling for Ned. The reader knows this handsome young man will prove to be important to Nancy.

The revised text, as is common to revised books, lacks the richness found in the original book, particularly around Nancy and Ned exploring their new friendship.

TimK said...

One thing I found hysterical in the original text is the passage where Nancy looks through the diary and is unable to read it. "It must be Swedish," she immediately concludes.

REALLY? Nancy is that knowledgeable about Scandinavian languages -- she can immediately tell not only that this is a Scandinavian language, but that it's Swedish rather than Norwegian or Danish? HAHAHAHAHAHA

(I lived in Sweden for almost 11 years, and I was actually living there when I bought the Applewood reprints and read this for the first time. I hooted with laughter!)