The Nancy Drew books were another staple of my childhood and Nancy herself was yet another of my red-haired heroines. She was pretty, popular and clever - everything I wanted to be - AND she was kind. At 18, she was just old enough to seem grown up, but also close enough to me in age for me to be able to identify with her. She solved mysteries and had adventures with her friends and basically had the kind of life I wanted.
As a child I had the Armada paperback versions that I bought from the second hand bookshop in the indoor market in Cleveleys. Any that I couldn't get there, I borrowed repeatedly from our local library. Even though I started reading them probably at the age of about seven, I continued to read them as a teenager, but when my Mum remarried, they were amongst the books I got rid of, as I didn't have room in our rented house to store my entire collection of books. However, as an adult with a house of my own, I decided that I wanted the whole series and I was fortunate to discover that they had been reissued in hardback and I began the slow process of collecting them all. It took a few years, but I now have a complete collection of the Grossett and Dunlap hardback editions and most of the Armada follow ons I remember reading as a child.
However, in researching which books had been published in the yellow hardback editions, I stumbled across something interesting I hadn't known as a child. The author of this series - Carolyn Keene - doesn't actually exist! It was a pen name used by the publishers, who commissioned a number of different writers to actually pen the stories. Knowing this now, it would be an interesting exercise to read ones by different authors to see if it is possible to spot any differences in style. I rather suspect it won't be - the books seem to have been very much a collaborative effort right from the beginning.
Are they as exciting as I remember them being? No. Do they still keep me, as a rather more cynical adult, entertained? Absolutely. Do I occasionally (and lovingly) stroke the covers of my lovely hardback editions and smile to myself simply because I own them? Possibly...