Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nancy Drew #8: Nancy's Mysterious Letter

When I write up these reviews, I do not bother to give a synopsis of the story. The reason has to do with my own personal preference. I cannot stand detailed summaries which mention everything that happens in a book. I would rather be reading the book. I am curious as to whether anyone else feels the same way as I do, since most people review books with detailed summaries.

Furthermore, I assume that most people who would find this blog post interesting are people who have actually read the eighth Nancy Drew book, Nancy's Mysterious Letter. As a result, my comments are centered on what I thought as I read the story. Now let's dive in.

When I read the revised text of Nancy's Mysterious Letter, I felt that the Shakespearean quotations left by Nancy Smith Drew as a clue came across as a bit stupid. I also thought it was a shame that the college students chose not to put on the Shakespearean play that they had practiced on with Ms. Smith Drew, since they felt they could not do it justice. How about trying? Besides, unknown to them, she was in the audience to watch their play. I just felt that they should have tried to do their best, since they had been through all of that work.

In the original text, the students do perform the original play. Furthermore, Ms. Smith Drew left no Shakespearean quotes behind as a clue, which are two big pluses for the original text.

One aspect of the story struck me differently than it did years ago. I have always hated the football game part of the story. I did not like it upon this reading in the revised text. However, for the first time, I enjoyed the game in the original text. Why? Because that part of the book was written much, much better than it was in the revised text. This is a third positive for the original text.

I did have one concern about the original text. In the revised text, Edgar takes up with Nancy Smith Drew because he knows she is to receive a large inheritance. He knows, because he read the letter that Nancy received about the inheritance. In the original text, Edgar does not steal that letter. Unless I missed something really obvious, it is pure coincidence that Edgar decides to marry Nancy Smith Drew. I was bothered about this during most of my reading of the original text, and it did detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, the original text is more engaging and less rushed than the revised text. For that reason and previous ones already mentioned, I cast my vote for the original text as a better story.

By the way, I completely forgot to write about this book when I read it and have now reached The Clue of the Broken Locket in my reading. Fortunately, I was able to remember some of my thoughts!


LuAnn Sgrecci O'Connell said...

I agree that we don't need to read a synopsis of these stories as most of us are very familiar with them!

LuAnn Sgrecci O'Connell said...

And I also found I actually enjoyed the football part in the original when I retread it a year ago.

Paula said...

In the orginal story, I think Edgar is corresponding by mail with several young women and scamming them out of money. I can't remember exactly why, but when reading the story, I had the understanding that he was marrying Miss Drew to get at her inheritance, so he must have known about it somehow before they were engaged.

larissa said...

I agree that its not necessary to give a synopsis. I'm pretty sure everybody reading this has read the books. I also agree that the original version is very good. In reading this though it occurred to me that I haven't read the revised version. Now I have another book to add to my wish list!

RiiverHeightsFangirl said...

My site has long synopsises, for anyone who may merely want to see a different take on the books and be entertained by the crazy events in the books, which seemed so plausible in our youth. I never thought about Edgar never having a clue about the other Nancy Drew's inheritance, yet planning on marrying her for it. Maybe he just guessed from hearsay that Nancy Smith Drew may have come from a wealthy family, and tried to scam her.

RiiverHeightsFangirl said...

The bit about Edgar planning to marry the other Nancy Drew, without (apparently) knowing about the inheritance in the original edition, does make that part of the mystery rather weak, though I never really thought about it till now.

William Land said...

I have to agree with those fans who do not want detailed summaries of the books that give away too many details and much of the plot - why read the book then?

This is the first 1930s original text book I read as a child at age 12. I was visiting my Auntie Beth and found this "old" Nancy Drew book (thick edition, four glossy illustrations, sans dustjacket) in a bookcase. She loaned it to me.

As a child, I didn't like it very much because original text Nancy was so different than finishing school Nancy of the revised text (the girl which I knew well). FSN (finishing school Nancy) also made her way into the original text books of the 1950s which I had read. I wasn't sure what I thought of BBN (brash bold Nancy) at age 12.

As a child, I liked the search of the other Nancy Drew and Nancy's big trip to Emerson with Ned's parents for the game and the dance. It was nice to see Helen Corning in the original book, but I missed Bess and George.

As a child, soon after I read the revised book, I was comforted by the return of FSN and Bess and George. I really didn't miss Helen in this story, maybe I had read enough Nancys by then to know that she wasn't in many books.

As an adult, I love the original text much better than the revised book. The scene with Postmaster Cutter in which Nancy is deemed responsible for the missing mail; and the man's embarrassment upon learning that Nancy is "THE Nancy Drew!" is entertaining.

I love Mrs. Sheets's various triades about young girls, and Nancy's specifically, and her response to the question about how many Nancy Drews she has known? "How many have I known? Thank goodness no! Only you and that other one, pretending to be grand ladies ..." BBN promised to pay the $10 to Mrs. Sheets for information, but she was determined to make the woman see that she didn't take the money.

Hannah Gruen's meeting with Mrs. Sheets and using a broom to threaten the caller is funny. BBN tells Hannah sharply to "attend to the luncheon."

I enjoy Nancy's relationship with Ned's parents and that fact that Mr. Nickerson is such a help when Nancy is sleuthing.

I like the revised book, too, but it lacks the richness of the original. I was glad to see that Bess and George were present and went to Emerson with FSN. Also, it was nice to see them with their usual escorts.

There is an internal illustration of FSN in her lovely dance dress in this book. Actually, the original text shows BBN in her dance dress, too, but I like the one better in the revised book.

This book contains the first reference to Aunt Eloise in the revised series. Nancy calls her aunt to say she is en route to New York and her aunt replies that she will be glad to see her. However, the visit doesn't take place in the book since the story ends before Nancy reaches Miss Drew's apartment.