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Parnassus on Wheels (Dodo Press) Paperback – 23 Nov 2007

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 57 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Should delight any bibliophile 7 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a delightful book written in the early 1900's. The story is light-hearted and sentimental by today's standards, but it is a joy to read. It accurately captures an earlier time of this century when much of the population was isolated, and travel by wagon was the norm. It is enjoyable also for the small details of daily life, such as the references to gas lamps and the types of food eaten then. Some of the references are dated, but the thoughts on books and bookselling are as timely as ever. In fact, the last order I received from Amazon contained a bookmark that had a quote from this very book! The book is apparently hard to obtain; I was lucky enough to find it in our city library. And the best news is that the sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, is much better than this volume. So if you aren't totally captivated by Parnassus on Wheels, but like it somewhat, don't pass up the sequel.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
For booklovers and romantics 23 Aug. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Do you love books and learning? Do you delight in spending the afternoon browsing the stacks at the library? Are you in the mood for something light, amusing, captivating, and utterly delightful? Do you believe in true love, somehow, someway? If you said yes to most of these questions, then read Parnassus on Wheels. This is the most delightful and charming book I've come across in years. It brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh, and that doesn't happen often when I'm reading a book. In fact, I wish I had my own Parnassus and that I could travel the countryside selling books.
By the way, it's a page turner too! A great gift idea for a friend that loves to read. Enjoy.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A charming (and quick) read 13 Mar. 2001
By audrey - Published on
Format: Paperback
Christopher Morley's protagonist and narrator, a self-described forty-ish fat New England housewife, finds passion and adventure when Roger Mifflin, an itinerant bookseller, enters her life.

Originally published in 1917, the book reads quickly and leaves one satisfied. It is a charming portrait of a bygone era, and yet it captures those things which are eternal -- the love of learning, the power of human feeling, and the irresistible bond of kindred spirits.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Short, but sweet 8 April 2009
By B. Morse - Published on
Format: Paperback
Christopher Morley's 'Parnassus on Wheels' attracted my attention alongside its sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, in a used book store in upstate New York on a book-buying vacation I took last year. The title 'Haunted Bookshop' is sure to attract most bibliophiles, and to read the dustflap and see that it was a sequel to Parnassus, with Parnassus sitting right there next to it, was too much a temptation to pass up, at least for me.

When the traveling bookshop 'Parnassus' rolls up to Sabine Farm, spinster Helen McGill finds herself attracted not only to the books inside, but to the life of Parsassus's proprietor, Roger Mifflin, as he recounts his travels to and fro, here and there, bringing great literature and joy into the lives of his customers. At once charmed and intrigued by the man and his profession, Helen resolves to purchase the Parnassus, upon offer of sale, from Roger Mifflin, who in reality came to discuss the possibility of sale to Helen's brother Andrew, a locally famous chronicler of the virutes of a simple, farming life.

Once the sale is complete, Helen and Mifflin depart Sabine Farm to begin Helen's life on the road selling books, with a furious Andrew not far behind, determined to bring to justice this man who has swindled his sister.

Though a very quick read at a mere 160 pages, this delightful novella has all the charm, wit, and literary name dropping that a reader could want. This book took me, literally, an hour and a half to read, but will remain with me for some time, and is one I will definitely recommend to other lovers of such stories.

Highly recommended.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A bibliophile's delight 17 Nov. 2004
By E. A Solinas - Published on
Format: Paperback
Gutenberg made the printed word available to the masses, but that doesn't mean that everybody bothered. That problem fuels "Parnassus on Wheels," a sweet little story about books and an unlikely romance, between a quirky bookseller and a stodgy spinster.

Andrew McGill became an unexpected literary hit when he wrote a book called "Paradise Regained" about a farmer's rural life. For his second book, he went trudging around the countryside for more material, leaving his middle-aged sister Helen to stay home and keep house for him. But one day a strange little man arrives at Helen's home, in a bookshop on wheels. The odd Roger Mifflin wants to sell Andrew his Parnassus -- his portable bookshop -- and intends to wait until Andrew returns.

Desperate to keep her brother from vanishing into the sunset, Helen takes her savings and buys the Parnassus herself. Then, out of regret for the life she has never gotten to experience off the farm, Helen decides to spend some time driving the Parnassus around the countryside. And as Roger teaches her about books and their importance, she begins to see just how a book -- any book -- can change a person's life.

"Parnassus on Wheels" is not a really outstanding book, but it is charming and sometimes very funny. Christopher Morley gives a glimpse into an earlier era, when rural areas didn't have libraries, there was no Internet to show people what was for sale, and a lot of people read nothing but the Bible.

There really isn't much of a plot, since most of it consists of Roger and Helen puttering around the countryside in the Parnassus. If there is a plot at all, it's the sort-of-romance between the two of them. It's cute and slightly sentimental, but peppered with humor such as Andrew and Roger getting into a very undignified fistfight in the road.

Helen starts out as a rather annoying character -- she's prejudiced against people who read, and seems to think that people should simply stay on the farm. That makes it all the more enjoyable when she starts appreciating the written word, and decides that she's not going to be an unappreciated bread-making automaton anymore. Roger Mifflin is actually not as odd as he seems to Helen's eyes, although he does have some charming quirks.

"Parnassus on Wheels" isn't deep or detailed enough to really be a classic, but it is a charming little early-1900s novel. Not to mention a must-read for bibliophiles.
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