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text 2018-11-19 01:27
The Bungalow Mystery - update ND3.1
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Reading the 1930 & 1960 versions of The Bungalow Mystery simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

 

1930 Nancy and Helen, her buddy from the last two books, are having a nice summer afternoon boating adventure on the lake when a violent storm comes up out of nowhere. Their boat sinks before they can get back to shore and there’s an unreasonably exciting scene where Helen, who is a weak swimmer, nearly drowns Nancy by clutching at her in a panic. Unreasonable, because it’s Chapter One and you know they’re both going to survive, but it’s really pretty well written, even with the cliché of exhausted Nancy trying to tow Helen to shore and Helen pitifully telling Nancy to leave her and save herself, and Nancy grimly determined to save them both. Anyway, another girl in a boat shows up, having heard their shouts for help, and rescues them. While Helen lays in the bottom of the boat like a dead fish, Nancy takes over for the exhausted girl at the oars.

 

Once they get to shore, the girls shelter in a boathouse until the storm blows over, and the new girl tells them her story. Laura Pendleton is a wealthy young lady who has been recently orphaned, and she’s staying at a hotel on the lake where she will be meeting her court appointed guardian, Jacob Aborn. She’s grieving and lonely and afraid, because her guardian is a stranger to her. The girls exchange invitations to visit and part company.

 

The 1960 version is similar, except that instead of Helen panicking like a ninny so Nancy can look extra competent by comparison, 1960 Helen has her arms somehow paralyzed by the boat hitting her when it sank. Laura inexplicably tells them her whole story while they’re still out in the storm trying to make it to shore, and the boathouse that they shelter in has a second story that’s set up like a small apartment – this difference will be a significant plot point later. Jacob is a distant relation in this version, and is to be accompanied by his wife Marion. I can’t find any reason for this change that serves the plot, except it gives the author a chance to illustrate a “bad” woman.

 

Considerations: A couple of things caught my interest. In the 1930 version, the girls pull on oilskins, but in the 1960 version, they put on plastic raincoats. So I fell into an internet rabbit hole reading about the history and evolution of waterproof outwear technology. Apparently, the oilskins would have been made from cloth impregnated with a petroleum-based wax. It seems that most of the innovations in waterproofing technology occurred somewhat later than the 1960 date of the revision, but by the late 1950’s there were “plastic ‘macs’ aka (by brand name) Pakamacs (made from extruded sheet plastic with welded seams and no fabric at all).”

 

Another curiosity is that the 1960 girls did look unsuccessfully for life jackets before the boat sank, but this isn’t mentioned at all in the 1930 version. Another internet rabbit hole later, I can say that life preservers did not become mandatory in personal watercraft until 1973. In fact, even at the time of the 1960 rewrite, the available technology was so poor that it’s highly unlikely a lake resort motel boat would have even had a life jacket designed to hold an unconscious person’s head and face out of the water, so although it might have helped Nancy keep Helen afloat, with her useless arms, she still would have had to struggle to keep her face above water in the rough, stormy water.

 

Dated Plot Points: Nobody with commonsense is going to be caught out on the lake in a storm today, assuming they have a smartphone with a weather app and weather alerts. Although I suppose they could be out of a service area. Since they are only 40 miles from River Heights, though, that seems unlikely. Also, mandatory life jackets, floatation cushions, and a radio for help. We had all these things on our 16 foot ski boat, so I assume they would be available on a resort motel’s motor boat.

 

Cult of Domesticity: One striking difference in the revisions is the significant amount text devoted to demonstrating that Nancy, despite her intelligence and determined, inquisitive nature, is still compliant with the virtues of feminine domesticity. In the 1960 version, we are treated to a full explanation of the girls drying out their wet clothes, making a nice cup of hot chocolate, washing their dishes and tidying up, and leaving a note of thanks to the boathouse’s owners. The 1930 girls just shelter until the storm blows over and take off after.  

 

The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season 2018: Dia de los Muertos (Nov. 1) – Book: Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0

ND3.1 (pending)

ND3.2 (pending)

ND3.3 (pending)

ND3.4 (pending)

ND3.5 (pending)

ND3.6 (pending)

ND3.7 (pending)

ND3.8 (pending)

ND3.9 (pending)

 

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text 2018-11-18 16:28
ND3.0 The Nancy Drew Project, con’t for The Bungalow Mystery
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Three years ago, I was inspired by a fellow Bookliker to embark on a project to read through my Nancy Drew collection, in order, and comparing the original to the revised texts. It has been slow work, so I’m just now getting to the third book in the series, “The Bungalow Mystery”.  I’d better pick up my pace, if I’m to finish in my lifetime, as of the original series, 34 of them have multiple text versions.

 

Background: The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories began as a girls’ adventure series in 1930 by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, written by various authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, following the story idea and outline provided by the Syndicate. Starting in 1959, the books were rewritten, condensing them to 20 chapters/180 pages, modernizing the stories, and eliminating some of the racist stereotypes found in the original stories. Some revisions only updated the stories, but others featured extensive revisions and sometimes even a completely new story. The Bungalow Mystery was originally written in 1930 by Mildred A. Wirt Benson and revised in 1960 by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. The revisions are less extreme, although as usual the updated version is more poorly written and far less interesting, having introduced more characters and needless subplots in a condensed page count. Not to mention the significant changes in Nancy's character, who is a feisty, reckless, independent girl in 1930, but is sweetened up and made far more demure and traditionally feminine in the revision. I’ll post the chapter comparisons over the next several days.

 

Updated shelfie of my Nancy Drew collection: Starting with the books I owned and loved as a girl, I’ve added to it over the years from junk shops, used bookstores, and online purchases, with a goal of owning a copy of each format – original and revised texts, illustrations, and cover art. It is not yet complete, but I’ve hit a few bonanzas this year, so it’s now taking up 5 rows of shelves.

 

Book Challenge & Tags: Lucky for me, this book fits the Dia de los Muertes door in the 24 Festive Tasks of the Holiday Season 2018. All my posts in this project use the tag Nancy Drew Project.

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 (current post)

ND3.1 (pending)

ND3.2 (pending)

ND3.3 (pending)

ND3.4 (pending)

ND3.5 (pending)

ND3.6 (pending)

ND3.7 (pending)

ND3.8 (pending)

ND3.9 (pending)

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text 2018-11-14 13:29
The Bungalow Mystery - finished reading

Sorry I've been absent the last several days. I'm using the Dia de los Muertos book task to further my Nancy Drew Project, and to simultaneously read and compare two versions of the same book requires some focused concentration on my part. I'm done reading both 1930 and 1960 versions and now just need to write it up and start posting. 

The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene  The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene  The Bungalow Mystery #3 - Carolyn Keene  

There are only 2 text versions, but I love the new cover art on the most recent printing.

 

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text 2018-10-21 17:11
PM's Halloween Bingo - Summary of Goals

Well. Not only has the Halloween Bingo been fun, it has really advanced this year's reading goals! For the game, I at least started and "finished" (with reviews) 32 books: 20 audios, 3 ebooks, and 9 bound books. Of those, I DNF'd 5 (one with the intention of going back to try again later), but completely read 27 (25 squares +2 wild cards).

 

Goals:

  • 13 books knocked off my 2018 TBR mountain
  • 10 previously unread books from my physical bookshelves*
  • 1 book from my "remembering dad" project
  • 2 Book Riot's "We Need Diverse Books"
  • 2 Banned books
  • 0 Nancy Drew
  • 0 Public Library physical books

 

Not bad for 7 weeks of reading! I do need to step up my borrowing of physical books from my public library - I borrow plenty of digital media, but I know the library depends on borrowing stats to maintain its funding. 

 

*One book from my physical bookshelf doesn't count as read/completed, because I pulled it down, looked at it closely, and decided to just put it in my donation box unread because I didn't really want to read it. It was a freebie that I picked up somewhere, years ago, and had been cluttering up my bookshelves since. It counts to my bookshelf TBR project because it's an unread book removed from my shelf. I'm only letting myself buy 1 new book for every 2 I take off my bookshelf in an effort to keep myself from being buried in books. 

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text 2018-06-28 23:29
The Hidden Staircase – ND2.6

The Hidden Staircase - Carolyn Keene  The Hidden Staircase - Mildred Benson,Carolyn Keene  

Reading the 1930 & 1959 versions of The Hidden Staircase simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

1930 Chs 17-22; 1959 Chs 18-19

 

FINALLY we get to the hidden staircase, and the pace really picks up as all the random plot elements start to converge. But not before we spend a lot more time in 1959 with Nancy and the police tracking down the men who kidnapped her father. Acting on clues that Nancy gave them, they’ve picked up one of the men, but can’t get a confession from him. So naturally (?!?), they ask Nancy to do the interrogation. She is of course successful, by using her feminine wiles to appeal to his sense of decency and shames him into cooperating because he’s really just a good guy who fell in to bad company and is now heartily ashamed of himself.

 

1930 Nancy, convinced that Gombet is her “ghost”, decides to confront him directly, but conceals her plans from the frightened old ladies. After they fall asleep, she sneaks out of the house through a window, armed with a flashlight and her gun. Gombet is leaving his house just as she’s getting there, so she decides to break into his house and explore rather than questioning him. She sees a “surly-looking creature” (Gombet’s servant) through the window and avoids the kitchen, then tries all the windows until she finds one to the cellar that’s open. Excitement ensues as she sneaks around, trying to avoid getting caught by the servant, until she accidentally falls through a hidden door in an upstairs closet and all the way down a hidden staircase.

 

1959 Nancy, having spent all the valuable page space dancing, cooking, cleaning, eating delicious meals, and investigating her father’s disappearance, doesn’t get to have fun sneaking around a house that she’s broken into, avoiding detection by a scary servant. Partly because the later revisions deal with the earlier racist stereotypes by just making all the characters white, and partly because 1959 Nancy is too virtuous to engage in illegal breaking and entering. Instead, she wheedles a realtor into giving her permission to explore, despite the house already having been sold to (surprise!) Nathan Gomber. Once again, Nancy lets other characters engage in the shady ethics while she profits from it. She’s like a mob boss keeping her hands clean by letting lesser people do her dirty work. Anyway, similar to 1930, Nancy finds the hidden door upstairs and falls down the staircase, then she and Helen go exploring, eventually coming to another stone staircase, but are confronted by a man telling them to stop.

 

1930 Nancy’s time in the tunnel is a lot more fun, because she’s down there alone at night and nobody knows where she is, and it’s dank and smelly and there are rats, and her flashlight battery is fading, but she bravely marches on until she comes to another stairway that takes her up to… a trapdoor in the attic floor at The Mansion! Nancy sleeps in the next morning and wakes to find that the sisters have finally caved to Gombet’s demands and have verbally agreed to sell the house, but Nancy reveals that Gombet was the ghost and shows them the hidden stairway. They all go exploring together, and discover all the hidden entrances to explain all the ghostly happenings. Then Nancy and the old ladies pile into her little roadster and roar off into town to report to the police.

 

Dated Plot Points: Nancy is trapped in the hidden passageway with no way to call for help, so I’m not sure how this would work in a modern adventure story. I suppose their mobile phones might get no cell reception underground, or maybe Nancy’s phone could have smashed when she fell, and Helen could have forgotten to bring her phone? Also, I loved that the 1959 girls would go exploring a dilapidated old mansion wearing skirts, and even more so that those skirts would have pockets AND those pockets would big enough to carry their flashlights in. I don’t believe they had mini maglites in those days, so these would have been bulky, heavy devices.

 

Considerations: It has always bugged me, and still does, that the books use a single “p” spelling for kidnapped. “Kidnaped” instead of “kidnapped”, although apparently either spelling is correct. Doesn’t make it right though.

 

Index of posts for The Hidden Staircase:

ND2.0

ND2.11

ND2.12

ND2.2

ND2.3

ND2.4

ND2.5

ND2.6

ND2.7 (pending)

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