Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: The secret of the old clock

September 17, 2007 at 9:31 am (Nancy Drew)

The mystery novel “The secret of the old clock” is the first book in the Nancy Drew series and was first published in 1930.

Nancy Drew, who is the protagonist in this and all the other Nancy Drew novels, is a sixteen year old teenager, who lives together with her father, a very respectable and knowledgeable lawyer, in River Heights. Nancy wants to help the poor relatives and friends of a man called Josiah Crowley, who nancy-drew_clock.jpghas died recently. Before his death he lived together with the Tophams, a very snobbish family, who treated him very badly. Still, they should inherit all the possessions and money of Josiah, as the actual will remains hidden, till Nancy, the detective girl, solves the case. By chance, she meets two friends of Josiah, Grace and Allie Horner, who are really poor and would urgently need some money. They tell Nancy that actually Josiah has promised to mention them in his will. Due to several stories of the girls, Nancy gets to know some relatives of Josiah, who say that the man should have made a new will before he died. Nancy struggles for justice and does everything to find the new will of the dead man. She does not want the Tophams to inherit any money or any possessions of Josiah and hopes that the true heirs will get the money as soon as possible. Travelling through the rural areas with her blue roadster and confronting very dangerous situations, like getting locked in a closet by thieves, following the thieves and breaking into their van, Nancy finally finds the mantle clock, where the information to find the new will is hidden.

The reasons why I really enjoyed reading the novel

Nancy Drew is a sixteen year old girl and I could very easily identify with her. I mean, even though it is a book for younger girls, I could put myself in Nancy’s position and feel with her.  One reason might be that it’s not so long ago that I was sixteen. She is a girl that is very sensitive and has a very huge sense of justice. She wants the true heirs to get Josiah’s money and hates the people, who would get all the possessions undeservingly. Therefore she tries to do everything to help the people in need and struggles for justice. To be able to do that she has to be very independent, which she really is throughout the whole book. Even though she is only sixteen, she has a lot of freedom, which gets expressed by the car she owns and uses whenever she wants to. She is allowed to stay at a camp with her friends and even takes part in some of her father’s meetings. Maybe one reason her father allows her all the things is that she is very mature for her age. We get to know that whenever she talks to her father and also to other people she is dealing with. One example that reveals her maturity is,

“Convinced that the inspiration was a happy one, she set off toward her father’s office. He was engaged in an important conference when she arrived, and Nancy was forced to wait ten minutes before she was admitted to the inner office. “Now what?” her father asked, smiling as she burst in upon him. “Is it a new dress you want?” Nancy’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes danced with excitement. “Don’t try to tease me,” she protested. “I’ve stumbled onto something important, and I want information!” (p. 62)

When she speaks to the Topham’s family, she also uses language very skilfully. For her sixteen years, she is a very powerful speaking young woman and can convince people very easily. But what fascinates me most about her character is her strong will to achieve something. “Where there’s a will, there’s way”, a proverb mentioned by Nancy that really impressed me. Even though it’s quite a harsh and difficult way to get the original will, Nancy does not give up and uses all her logical thinking and her power to fight for justice.

She is the perfect sixteen year old girl, who seems to live a perfect life. She needs to have enough money to afford the car, the father has a housekeeper who cares for Nancy and the house, as her mother died some time ago, she has lots of friends, with whom she can share her free time with if she wants to, she supports poor people and helps them whenever she can, she has a great relationship to her father and she is even capable of doing things which actually are associated with boys or men, like changing the tyres of a car. She is in no way distracted by class boundaries, values the work and effort done by poorer people who need money, she is very skilful with language and really fights for justice. It seems she lives a perfect life.

Maybe I liked the book so much, although it has been written for younger people, because I want to become nancy-drew-2.gifan English teacher one day. I think, even though the book is quite old, as it was written in 1930, one can use it for English classes in Austria. When reading the Nancy Drew story, kids can learn about certain values in life, which people these days often seem to forget. Justice is a word that really plays and important role throughout the whole story and should play an omnipresent role in everyone’s life today as well. Even though it seems that some parts in the book are quite illogical or too convenient, because Nancy really accomplishes everything without bigger problems, it’s a story that helps people to think about class boundaries, justice, poor people, freedom, parents and children’s relationships, just to name the most important aspects coming up in the book. I can only recommend people who are interested in girls and the aspects mentioned above to read Nancy Drew.

Although the black person, Jeff Tucker, is portrayed quite badly in the book, this should not be reason for saying that children shouldn’t read the Nancy Drew books. Parents and teachers should talk with the kids about the portrayal of the man and talk about the history and the time when the Nancy Drew books were written. Of course, if no one talks with the children and discusses the books, children could get a wrong impression of colored people and could get influenced by the books easily in a wrong way. But the character Nancy Drew is such a strong and impressive girl, and kids should simply get to know her, even though not everything in the books can be taken for granted. The most important thing is that adults talk to the children and try to help them understand the characters showing up in the books.

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