The Secret of the Old Clock, by Carolyn Keene

Man. I don’t think that getting through 56 of these books is going to be very difficult; I tore through this in less than two hours! I’ve requested the next one from the library in audiobook form; it’ll take longer to get through but I’ll be able to listen to it on my commute! Genius!

I mentioned on the Twitter that “I swear the Nancy Drew books were less hokey when I was six,” which is obviously not true but it certainly seems that way! Take, for example, the first two paragraphs of this little book:

“Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark-blue convertible. She had just delivered some legal papers for her father.

“‘It was sweet of Dad to give me this car for my birthday,’ she thought. ‘And it’s fun to help him in his work.'”

Oh, dear. Luckily, once I remembered that I initially read these books starting when I was six and that therefore I could not expect terribly complex writing, I was mostly able to ignore how formal/stilted/duh the narrative was.

If you’ve never read this (shame on you!), the story is thus: Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, has a lawyer father who lets her help out with some work he does. One day, after delivering some legal papers for her father, she rescues a girl who has fallen off a bridge (no, really) and returns her to her guardians, who, in 1930s fashion, are delightful and hospitable and go telling all their business to random teenagers who rescue small children. Nancy learns that the family was thisclose to getting some inheritance money, but the will they thought existed never turned up and some bratty rich family is getting the entire estate instead. Nancy, ever the optimist, sets out to see if the dead guy, Crowley, really did write another will.

That’s… pretty much the whole idea. Nancy finds some clues, goes looking for a clock, gets locked in a closet, finds the clock, and [spoiler alert?] saves the day. It was exciting when I was six!

I wish I could have read this book in the original 30s version; I know that the books were rewritten in the 60s much like Goosebumps and the Baby-Sitters Club books are being today and it would be interesting to see what the “real” Nancy Drew is like. But definitely this Nancy is a decent female role model — although her outfits and appearance are often mentioned for no apparent reason except to tell us how pretty she is, never in this book is she derided for being a girl or for being too young. She helps out several families and interacts with the police on a few occasions, and everyone just goes right along with it. I love that. What’s crazy is that according to Wikipedia, which knows all, people felt that the “real” Nancy was much more outspoken and authoritative. How do I get my hands on one of those, outside of finding a will conveniently hidden in an old clock?

Rating: 8/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, A to Z Challenge, Flashback Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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3 thoughts on “The Secret of the Old Clock, by Carolyn Keene

  1. Petunia says:

    My kids and I listen to the audio books when we drive 4 hours to visit family. Laura Linney was a good choice as the narrator. It can get a little annoying but I can't tell if it's Linney or just the writing.

  2. Amy says:

    I actually have a copy of the original. It's sort of one of my book goals in life to find the old old Nancy Drews. You just have to check every time you go to a used book store and they turn up. (Of course, the original re-writes, rather than the new editions of the re-writes that we probably read turn up much more often.) And, they're re-writing the BSC? This I have to read.

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