They’re re-realeasing Sweet Valley High, but with some updates. The various blogs/discussion lists I read are fairly upset, especially as the Wakefield twins have gone down 2 sizes from a “perfect size 6” to a “perfect size 4”. Yes, this reflects actual changes in how women’s garments are sized, yes this probably contributes to body image issues… blah blah blah. Frankly, I never liked SVH, so I really don’t care. I think many of the complaints people are lodging can be lodged against a great many of teen series and… yeah, I don’t really care.
BUT! It gave me the idea to do something else: Did you know that Nancy Drew was radically written in the 60s to make it more PC? (Hilarious given how un-PC she is by current standards.)
I feel weird blogging about this, because Geek Buffet founder Dana is much more the Nancy expert than I am, but she has kindly loaned me some of her original edition Nancy Drew’s. I thought it would be a fun experiment to read the 1930 edition of The Bungalow Mystery alongside the one that is currently available (the 1960 revised edition).
So, join me as I do a chapter-by-chapter analysis!
Chapter 1: Racing the Storm (1930):
First sentence: “Don’t you think we should turn back Helen? It’s getting dreadfully dark out here on the lake and I don’t like the look of those big black clouds.”
Nancy and her “chum” Helen are boating up on Moon Lake when a storm suddenly overtakes them before they can get back the their camp. They don “southeasters” and “oilskins” but can’t outrace the storm. They hit a log and their boat sinks.
Chapter 1: A Blinding Storm (1960):
First off, the illustration opposite the title page is completely different. Different illustrator AND a different scene from the book–Nancy’s look is much more updated and she discovers a guy chained to a bench in a basement. In the original edition, Nancy discovers a room that’s been ransacked–not nearly as exciting.
First sentence: “Look at those black storm clouds!” Nancy Drew pointed out to her friend, Helen Corning, who was seated beside her in the bow of the small red rowboat.
Although the plot is essentially the same, there is very little textual overlap. Some things make sense–they put on rain jackets and Nancy asks if there are any life preservers (nope). There are also some differences that I’m not sure why they made– they are now boating on Twin Lake and need to get back to their motel. More interesting, when the wind picks up, in the 1930s, Nancy needs to grab the rail of the boat, but in the 1960s, it’s Helen. Also, in the 1930s, Helen is driving when they see the log and she momentarily panics and doesn’t turn the boat in time. In the 1960s, it’s Nancy’s flash of fear that causes her not to turn the boat in time and she’s the one responsible.
This edition also has an illustration of trying to bail the boat out and it doesn’t end as soon– Nancy finds Helen and starts to swim with her to shore. On the way they are rescued by red-haired, 16-year-old Laura Pendleton, who may need Nancy’s help soon. The chapter ends when they’re almost to shore, but might be dashed against the rocks of the shoreline before they make it to safety.
Chapter 2: A Desperate Struggle (1930):
As Nancy finds Helen, it’s much more dramatic, as Helen is struggling in the waves and doing her darndest to drown both of them. Nancy finds herself wondering if she’ll ever see her father again, and thinking about the mysteries she’s already solved. Our narrator gives us a helpful back story to Nancy and a plot synopsis, as well as title, of the first 2 volumes in the series.
They are then rescued by a girl (no name or description yet) who is not nearly as self-sufficient, nor does she have the physical strength, of the 1960s rescuer.
Chapter 2: Uninvited Guests (1960)
The girls safely reach shore and break into a small bungalow to warm up. (But only because it was the only place around and the owners weren’t home.) There is just a wee bit of back story and some hints to the earlier books in the series–but no titles are given. They make some hot cocoa and warm up. We find out that Helen’s fiance is abroad for his oil-company job, but they’re getting married when he gets back.
We find out that Laura is newly orphaned and is about to meet her new legal guardian. She won’t spend much time with them, as she attends boarding school, but she’s worried because she’s fairly certain that she’s unwanted. Nancy and Helen return to the motel where they meet a very rude woman, who, of course, turns out to be the wife of Laura’s new guardian. When they see Laura the next day, she’s very distressed and reveals that Mrs. Abhorn kept referring to Laura’s mother as “Mary” even though her name was “Marie.”
Chapter 3: A New Friend (1930)
We *still* haven’t gotten off the lake yet. Ok, they finally do and they go to a well-built boathouse that’s not locked, so there’s no need to break in. We finally get Laura Pendleton’s name, although she’s wearing a black dress and instead of having red hair, we learn she has “tragic brown eyes.” We learn much of the same back story, although the choice of Mr. Abhorn as guardian, is court-appointed, rather than stipulated in her Laura’s mother’s will. Also, the ickyness of the Abhorns is based more on a feeling, rather than harder evidence offered in the current edition.
Chapter 3: Strange Guardians (1960)
Laura and the girls decide that Mrs. Abhorn might not be *that* bad, she only met Mrs. Pendleton once and was much more cordial in the morning. So, the girls grab some breakfast and play tennis with another friend. They drive Laura back to her swanky hotel and are invited back for an afternoon tea dance. Nancy makes the conclusion that, based on Laura’s clothes and what she’s said about her life, her parents were very wealthy–as a minor Mr. Abhorn will control Laura’s money. (Hmmmm… could this be some foreshadowing, Nancy?)
On the way back to camp, Nancy and Helen stop off at a realtor to see who owns the bungalow they stopped off at the night before. They then stop by the bungalow and see someone in a dark, expensive foreign car driving very recklessly peel out. All Helen saw was a straw hat pulled over his eyes and a bit of a sleeve. (Bum bum BUM!)
Helen’s aunt is waiting at the hotel and tells Nancy that Hannah Gruen (her housekeeper) has sprained her ankle. Nancy makes plans to return home as soon as she meets Mr. and Mrs. Abhorn. Mrs. Abhorn seems perfectly nice now, but Nancy doesn’t trust her. Mr. Abhorn confides that Laura is actually penniless, because her mother spent all the money, but they have the means to care for her. Helen reveals that Mr. Abhorn was who was driving the black car seen at the bungalow.
Whew! So much more happens in the 1960 version! Go go gadget plot!
Chapter 4: A Visitor (1930)
This chapter opens with the exact same chapter as 1960’s chapter 3. Laura visits Nancy and Helen at camp and they tell her all about Nancy’s previous adventure. (Is the 1930s version solely concerned with selling the other volumes? Is that not such an issue because by 1960 Nancy was a household name?) Also, Laura now says that it was her mother’s wish that Mr. Abhorn be her guardian. Hmmmmm. Laura invites them to come to the hotel the next day to meet Mr. and Mrs. Abhorn–Nancy and Helen agree.
No wonder the 1930 version is 24 pages longer than the 1960 one!
Chapter 4: The Tree Crash (1960)
Nancy and Helen don’t see the black foreign car in the parking lot, but are very uneasy about Mr. and Mrs. Abhorn. They especially think it was poor taste to tell strangers about Laura’s financial status. On the way back to River Heights, Nancy is caught in another storm and is stopped when a tree falls on the road. She meets Jim and Cathy Donnell, who help her move the tree. They tell her that the Abhons live near there, but they just bought the house, after taking a long and expensive vacation. Nancy goes home and Hannah tells her to call her father–he needs her help investigating an embezzlement case!
Ok, I’m stopping here for now. Stay tuned later tonight or tomorrow as we follow the two Nancys on The Bungalow Mystery!