Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Haunted Bookshop

After finishing Christopher Morley's Parnassus on Wheels, I emailed my father to get him to find me the sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, in the matching edition. He very promptly did so, and I have now read it.

For all it is a sequel, The Haunted Bookshop is very different from its predecessor. Parnassus was written from the point of view of Helen, which made it a much more charming book, because she was such an ordinary woman, but open-minded towards having such an unusual adventure. The Haunted Bookshop, on the other hand, is not narrated by any character. Helen and Roger have now opened up a bookshop in Brooklyn, and Mr. Chapman, a very rich friend of Roger's, has sent his daughter, Titania, to work in the bookshop in order to reverse the ill effects of a finishing school. Also on the scene is Aubrey Gilbert, a young advertiser who first enters the Haunted Bookshop with a mind to managing Roger's advertising. Roger, of course, doesn't believe in any advertising he has to pay for.

Aubrey and Titania rather take over the show from Helen and Roger. This book has as many adventures as Parnassus, but they are of a rather darker, less whimsical nature. Whereas Parnassus shows a world before World War I, The Haunted Bookshop is set just after the war, and this has a very noticeable effect on the tone and content of the book. That's not to say there is not still whimsy in this story, and Roger Mifflin is still preaching the love of books, but there is a wider view of the world here. The less comic nature of this book probably has something to do with the fact that the travelling Parnassus wagon itself does not appear here, as it was so inherently comic.

This book is wonderful, but not quite as lovable as Parnassus on Wheels. Still, it's well worth the read, especially to get a further view of such wonderful characters as Roger Mifflin and Helen.

Another nod to the Bibliophilic Books Challenge, for which this is my third book, meaning I've completed the first level of the challenge, Bookworm. Since I've already started another book that qualifies, I guess I'm aiming for the next level up, which entails six books.

1 comment:

ethelmay said...

Christopher Morley was an unusual writer, who wrote a number of books that are quite different from one another. Some of his books are sentimental, almost twee, and some are much more modern and experimental. _Kitty Foyle_ is a really interesting book, and I keep meaning to find his last novel, _The Man Who Made Friends with Himself_, again and see if it's as strange as I remember.


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