Monday, May 7, 2012

Nancy Drew #21 Secret in the Old Attic

In Nancy Drew #21, The Secret in the Old Attic, Nancy searches for missing sheet music written by Mr. March's son, Fipp. The original text also has a subplot in which Diane Dight tricks Ned Nickerson into taking her to the Emerson dance instead of Nancy.

In the beginning of the original text, Mr. March collapses while at the Drew home. He is said to be malnourished and spends the night with the Drews until he is well enough to go home. While Mr. March is with the Drews, he hears one of Fipp's songs on the radio, which causes him to realize that someone has stolen the song.

In the revised text, someone throws a rock at Mr. March as he leaves the Drew residence. Mr. March is hit in the head, and as a result of his injury, he spends the night with the Drews. In this version, Mr. March also hears one of Fipp's songs on the radio.

The rock-throwing incident, which is very typical of the revised text books, is stupid. Once again, the villain alerts Nancy that a villain exists. Mr. March's ill health in the original text was sufficient to create the sequence of events resulting in him spending the night and hearing the song on the radio.

In the original text, page 22, Mrs. French informs Mr. March that his granddaughter is missing. She insists, "It's not my fault." Even if the disappearance was not Mrs. French's fault, she waited a day to tell Mr. March, which makes her negligent.

Since Mrs. French is negligent in the original text, I assume that this is why the revised text does not have Susan disappear. Rather, Mrs. French arrives with Susan, telling Mr. March that Susan is ill. Mrs. French still declares, "It's not my fault," which comes across as a very odd remark. Really, would Mr. March assume that Mrs. French purposefully made Susan sick? That statement is out of place in the revised text.

In the original text, page 16, Nancy asks about the old stone wing of Mr. March's house. Mr. March replies, "That part was built way back when people had slaves." When Nancy asks about the old stone wing on page 15 of the revised text, Mr. March replies, "That part was built way back when people around here had plenty of servants."

I disagree with this revision since it attempts to rewrite history. I understand that part of the revision process removed ethnic stereotypes, but it is a fact that people owned slaves in the past, as horrible as that idea is to us now.

I do agree with the removal of Bess's comments of page 17 of the original text. Bess acts like the past history of the slave quarters is romantic, sighing as she thinks of "mammies crooning, little pickaninnies dancing." Since the term "pickaninny" is considered derogatory, that part had to go. However, I see nothing wrong with the initial mention of the existence of the slave quarters.

The Secret in the Old Attic is one of two Nancy Drew books that was never bought for me when I was a child. I never read it. Much of the reason we collect is due to nostalgia, and our favorite books are influenced by what we read as children. Since I never read Old Attic, I did not like it when I read it as an adult years ago. I enjoyed neither the original text nor the revised text. As I recall, I was really annoyed by the Diane Dight subplot of the original text, so I liked the original text even less than the revised text.

This made me feel odd, since apparently Old Attic is loved by many Nancy Drew fans. I realized that my dislike could only have been caused by never having read it when young.

I wondered whether my opinion would shift upon this reading, since now, I do have a memory of reading this story, even though the memory is unpleasant. This time, I rather enjoyed both texts and no longer have any of those lingering negative feelings. I can no longer consider Old Attic to be a least favorite Nancy Drew book; rather it lands somewhere in the middle.

During this reading, I enjoyed both texts equally, but I favor the original text as a slightly better story.

1 comment:

Kansas Mad Man said...

Hi, Jennifer. I've enjoyed catching up on your blog the past several nights, and discovered the reviews. I have to say that I like the original very much, and enjoyed the romance dilemma that is part of the sub-plot. Ned gets to be a real hero in this book, and since he's my favorite character, I enjoy the original. The revised is not a poorly pared down version, but the action moves too quickly. The original book had an interesting plot that was relevant with the shortage of silk and nylon during the War. . . interesting, but less so, later. The book's cover art is very Dark Shadows-y on the 1970 cover, but the internals are fantastic---that particular artist does a nice job.