“The Secret of the Ageless Girl” (by Leigh Lundin)

In a sequel to his post of May 7, award-winning short-story writer and blogger Leigh Lundin revisits another beloved character of the Stratemeyer Syndicate.—Janet Hutchings

“Why are you doing this to me?” Nancy struggled against her bonds. “All these years, I couldn’t figure out why bad men kept tying me up but now I learn you’re behind it. It’s been you all along.”

“Dear, dear, don’t fret. Someone will come by soon to rescue you.”

“How could you do this? I’m kind, helpful, smart, and resourceful. Yet you’re so mean, you . . . you . . . Miss Keene or whatever you call yourself.”

“I’m afraid Carolyn Keene is merely a disguise. My real name’s Mildred, and I don’t always tie you up. I’ve locked you in a closet, trapped you in a barn, run you off the road, lost you in a cave . . .”

“But why? You must really hate me.”

“No, I quite like you, or rather Edward and his daughters like you. Mostly, I like the money they pay. But I do well by you, don’t I, Miss Drew? Police departments vie to consult with you. The University of Iowa celebrates you. Well, actually they honor me, Mildred Wirt Benson, but because of you.”

Nancy struggled against the ropes. “That makes no sense.”

“Of course it does, darling. You’re pretty, you never age. I’ve given you a smart, well-off father, several sports cars, and a fashion wardrobe girls would die for. Did you know old Stratemeyer, Edward himself, persuaded Grosset & Dunlop to hire top fashion illustrators for you? You’re the envy of all the young women. Only the best for you, my dear.”

“I wouldn’t mind cheaper rope,” Nancy grumbled. “And why do I have to chase crooks in high heels? Nobody did this to the Hardy brothers.”

“Yes, well, it’s a girl thing. And I do give you adoring attention. You’re actually quite literate, you know. And fans love you, Nancy Drew. From the beginning, you’ve never been out of print.”

“You say his daughters like me?”

“Especially Harriet. I’m afraid she might replace me one day and then where will you be?”

“Maybe not gagged and bound.”

The woman who called herself Keene looked amused. “So you think. We all do what the Syndicate tells us. Oh, by the way, try to remember wild guesses aren’t always clues.”

“So call it intuition, okay?”

“I’ll make a note of that. I’m good, but I’m no Agatha or Dorothy L.”

“And a boyfriend. Can’t I have a boyfriend?”

Mildred sighed. “I suppose it’s inevitable. Just, you know, act with decorum. Comportment’s everything.”

“What fun’s that?”

“You can’t have too much fun, darling. You’re a role model. And no new Mrs. Drew for your father, either. The Syndicate likes motherless children. It’s a Harry Potter thing.”

“Who?”

“Never mind. You just keep the magic.”

***

Thanks to the genius of Edward Stratemeyer and the willingness of Grosset & Dunlap to invest in the series, Nancy led as a fashion trendsetter, always pictured wearing the latest styles, which didn’t go unnoticed by her young audience. Nancy’s attire was so cleverly chosen that as decades passed, her wardrobe never quite seemed to go out of fashion.

Harriet Stratemeyer Adams took over writing the series in 1955. She also revised and often rewrote the original 34 volumes, in the process changing Nancy from the impulsive, sometimes headstrong girl of Stratemeyer’s and Mildred’s vision, to a milder, more sedate and proper girl—more sugar and less spice.

The real magic and mystery is that whatever the era, Nancy Drew has captivated and influenced young readers for close to a century.

The Nancy Drew Convention runs June 2-8, 2014 in San Diego.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Adventure, Books, Business, Characters, Fiction, Genre, Guest, History, Novels, Publishing, Writers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to “The Secret of the Ageless Girl” (by Leigh Lundin)

  1. A Broad Abroad says:

    Truth be told, I was more a Hardy Boys fan, but can understand Ms Drew’s appeal to girls at the time, particularly those contemplating, with horror, a life of domestic bliss in the kitchen.

    Hadn’t given the ‘motherless child’ aspect much thought, but it certainly allowed our young heroes and heroines the freedom to engage in escapades outside the norm.

    • Leigh says:

      As a kid, I leaned toward the Hardy Boys. I tried to watch the Disney version at my cousin’s house, but usually found myself interrupted.

      For this article, I read the first two Nancy Drews and they held up pretty well despite the wild guesses! I enjoy the older series (Mildred Wirt Benson) rather than the new (Harriet Adams), but that’s just me.

  2. Cate Dowse says:

    Truth be told, I was more a Hardy Boys fan, but can understand Ms Drew’s appeal to girls at the time, particularly those contemplating, with horror, a life of domestic bliss in the kitchen.

    Hadn’t given the ‘motherless child’ aspect much thought, but it certainly allowed our young heroes and heroines the freedom to engage in escapades outside the norm.

    • Leigh says:

      A comment on the SleuthSayers article mentioned psychologist and story-teller Clarissa Pinkola Estes and the effects of good mothering, poor mothering, and the lack of mothering. I still wonder what it does for readers.

  3. Very funny, again, and elucidating. Will you be writing about the Bobbsey Twins?

    • Leigh says:

      No need to get snarky, Millie. I’ll take it up with management! But thanks, funny remark.

      The articles were fun to research and fun to write. Nancy Drew started a wave of girl detectives including The Dana Girls (individually written by Leslie McFarlane and Mildred Benson as ‘Carolyn Keene’), Judy Bolton, Cherry Ames, Meg Duncan, Ginny Gordon, and especially Trixie Belden whom many believe was the best of all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s