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Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
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Parnassus on Wheels (1917)

by Christopher Morley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Roger Mifflin (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
917649,569 (3.93)255
  1. 40
    84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (bookwoman247)
    bookwoman247: If you are charmed by Parnassus, you will also be charmed by this non-fiction account of the friendship between a New York writer and the manager of a London bookshop, begun in the years just after the war and carried on for 20 - 30 years through letters.… (more)
  2. 00
    Off in Zora: A Modern-Day Tale of a Traveling Bookseller by Alan Armstrong (benjclark)
    benjclark: "Because Parnassus on Wheels was read aloud to him as a boy, Alan Armstrong always imagined himself as a Merchant Adventurer dealing in books...." - back blurb.
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» See also 255 mentions

English (50)  Spanish (9)  Catalan (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
In the early years of the twentieth century, a woman who is bored playing housewife to her literary brother purchases Parnassus from a wandering book salesman. Parnassus is "a caravan of culture," a traveling book treasure trove designed to bring books to the masses in more rural and outlying areas.

I found Morley's attention to gender issues really interesting here, plus his mixture of a bibliophile's dream—who wouldn't want to travel for a living with books literally at one's back?—with a social message of spreading knowledge to the disenfranchised.

An adventure book about books if ever there was an adventure book about books.

Many kudos to Melville House for bringing this title back into print; here's hoping they bring the sequel back as well. ( )
1 vote proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
I was amazed to learn that this delightful novella was written as long ago as 1917. The heroine and narrator, Helen McGill, could be any thoroughly modern woman who becomes fed up keeping house for her brother and takes off on adventures of her own. Helen was 'rescued' by her brother Andrew from a life as a governess to settle down with him on his farm. She is a placid soul who happily washes, tends the chickens, cleans and cooks for 15 years (she calculates that she has baked 6000 loaves of bread in that time) but when Andrew becomes a famous author from writing about their everyday life on the farm and takes to touring the country looking for new things to write about, she begins to feel restless.

One day bookseller Roger Mifflin turns up at her door with his 'Parnassus on Wheels', a caravan of sorts full of books. He's been travelling the roads for years, selling books along the way at farms ans small towns but now has a yearning to settle down in the city for a while and thinks Andrew McGill would be just the man to buy his travelling van. To prevent her brother getting his hands on the van and disappearing for even longer periods, Helen decides to buy the van herself and so embarks on a romantic adventure of a lifetime.

Roger Mifflin is a real enthusiast of the power of books and soon infects Helen with his love of reading. She has a gentle humour that flavours her narration with rye assides about her brother and Roger's almost missionary zeal. This is a really charming tale, not only of how one plump, middle aged woman breaks out of a rut to take a risk on adventure and find more than she expected but of the power of a good book to enrich peoples lives.

One of my favourite quotes from the book sums up Roger's philosophy:

"When you sell a man a book you don't just sell him twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships that sail at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean." ( )
1 vote cscott | May 18, 2014 |
Totally loved this book! So thankful it was included in my Book Riot quarterly box or I might never have stumbled upon it. A tender & amusing love story any bibliophile will appreciate. Next on my list ... hunting down a copy of the sequel, the Haunted Bookshop. ( )
  sroot | Apr 26, 2014 |
Definitely a lost classic! This novella from the early 20th century is an adorable story about a bored farm woman who wants an adventure so she buys a bookseller's wagon. A wonderful, fun story about books and love at any age. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Apr 11, 2014 |
Helen McGill's brother has become a celebrated author, while she has been relegated to cooking all his meals and doing most of the work around their farmhouse as he spends more and more time away. Then, one day, a traveling bookseller arrives, hoping to sell his entire operation to her brother. On a whim, Helen buys it herself, and sets off on her own literary adventure.

It's a charming, good-hearted little story, one that's calculated to appeal to book-lovers, and, at novella-length, is exactly as long as it needs to be. It's also left me rather wistfully longing for a life spent wandering the countryside in a horse-drawn bookmobile. ( )
1 vote bragan | Mar 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Morleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorsline, DonaldIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To H. B. F. and H. F. M.
"Trusty, dusky, vivid, true"
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I wonder if there isn't a lot of bunkum in higher education?
Quotations
"Lord!" he said, "when you sell a man a book you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night—there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean. Jimmy! If I were the baker or the butcher or the broom huckster, people would run to the gate when I came by—just waiting for my stuff. And here I go loaded with everlasting salvation—yes, ma'am, salvation for their little, stunted minds—and it's hard to make 'em see it."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380627035, Paperback)

This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:05 -0400)

Parnassus on Wheels is a novel by Christopher Morley, published in 1917. The Parnassus of the title refers to the mountain that was the home of the Muses in Greek mythology. In the story, Roger Mifflin sells his traveling bookshop to Helen McGill, who tires of looking after Andrew, her ailing brother. Christopher Morley later continued the story of Roger Mifflin in his 1919 novel The Haunted Bookshop.… (more)

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