The Phantom Yacht

Carol Norton, 1928.

Ya gotta love a book that asks the burning question, "If your family name is Strait, and you named the boy Gibraltar and the girl Behring, should you name the baby Dover or Magellan?"

Heroines Dories and Nann are spending October on Cape Cod, with Dories' Great Aunt Jane. They meet Gib Strait, a local boy, and Dick his friend from the city; and the four teenagers investigate, explore, and eventually discover the facts about a local abandoned mansion, as well as determining what became of the yacht of the title.

Although the narrative follows Dories, Nann is the stronger character, repeatedly described as "fearless" and obviously in the habit of giving thought to problems and solving them. Her feet are firmly on the ground, and no threat of ghosts -- guaranteed to deter Dories -- impresses her. Adults are remarkable for their absence in this whole episode, and without Nann's logic and determination, the others would give up.

They overcome through persistence and luck, not deduction. At least as much of Dories' attention goes to her personal situation, of which Great Aunt Jane is apparently part -- what became of her family's money after her father died? (And, the reader may ask, why is her mother taking in sewing if she was a teacher before her marriage, and why does Nann seem so unconcerned about the fact that her own mother has recently died? For that matter, how did the girls meet in kindergarten if Nann is exactly a year older than Dories? None of these questions are answered.)

© 1994 Jo Anne Fatherly

(This review first appeared in The Whispered Watchword, the newsletter of The Phantom Friends)