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Parnassus on Wheels (Parnassus, Bk 1)
Parnassus on Wheels - Parnassus, Bk 1
Author: Christopher Morley
1918. Parnassus on Wheels is the story of Roger Mifflin, a sprite-like figure who moves through the New England countryside with his traveling book wagon. His story shows how book selling can be one of the world's highest callings, spreading enlightenment with a dose of delight.
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ISBN-13: 9781935554110
ISBN-10: 1935554115
Publication Date: 8/31/2010
Pages: 142
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.

4.4 stars, based on 6 ratings
Publisher: Melville House
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 6
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

cathyskye avatar reviewed Parnassus on Wheels (Parnassus, Bk 1) on + 2230 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Title: Parnassus on Wheels
Author: Christopher Morley
ISBN: 1879923017/Booksellers House
Protagonist: middle-aged Helen McGill
Setting: New England around 1910
Rating: A+

First Line: I wonder if there isn't a lot of bunkum in higher education?

There are a few days when the world seems to hang still in a dreaming, sweet hush, at the very fulness of the fruit before the decline sets in. I have no words (like Andrew) to describe it, but every autumn for years I have noticed it. I remember that sometimes at the farm I used to lean over the wood pile for a moment just before supper to watch those purple October sunsets. I would hear the sharp ting of Andrew's little typewriter bell as he was working in his study. And then I would try to swallow down within me the beauty and wistfulness of it all, and run back to mash the potatoes.

Such is the life of forty-year-old Helen McGill, a woman who began her working life as a governess. For the past several years, she's been on a New England farm, taking care of her brother, Andrew, who's become a successful writer. Andrew's begun to vex the pudding out of Helen. Now that he's famous, he thinks nothing of packing a bag and taking off for weeks at a time, leaving her all the work on the farm. Helen's had enough. The day Roger Mifflin appears, rolling up the drive in a homemade book wagon pulled by a fat old horse, she panics. Mifflin wants to get out of the book trade and return to Brooklyn to write his own book. From reading her brother Andrew's books, Mifflin feels that he is just the person that will buy his "Parnassus on Wheels". Helen agrees whole-heartedly. In fact, she can already see Andrew loading up the wagon and disappearing for months (instead of weeks) at a time. In a move to forestall Andrew, Helen buys the wagon, all the contents, the horse and the dog for $400--the money she's been saving to buy a Ford.

But something else grabs hold of Helen. She's never had a vacation. She's never even had a tiny little adventure. Thinking that it would serve Andrew right if she took off on her own jaunt, she packs a bag, climbs into Parnassus the wagon, and Mifflin takes her out on the road to show her how to survive in the traveling book trade.

In 1917, Morley, a lowly editor of the Doubleday, Page & Company of Long Island, was miffed because he was refused a raise. He started writing Parnassus on Wheels during spare moments. The book was accepted, and the print run of 1500 sold out. Nice, but not spectacular. What this 130-page book did was launch him into fame as a writer in the early twentieth century. I can see why. I think I had a smile plastered on my face the entire time I read this book. Morley has a cast of brilliant characters, especially Helen, and the autumn in New England setting was so well done that I felt as though I had my own seat on the book wagon. The illustrations were a perfect counterpoint to the text. Even though some of the terminology may confuse readers who aren't familiar with that era, they should still find it a delightful story. Give it a try--I seriously doubt that you'll be disappointed!
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reviewed Parnassus on Wheels (Parnassus, Bk 1) on + 168 more book reviews
I had never heard of this book until I read "Book Girl" by Sarah Clarkson (see review below). When I picked it up, I had no idea what a treat I was in for. Set in 1917October in New England, a wagon named Parnassus shows up in the farmyard of Helen McGill and her brother, Andrew. Upon discovering it is a bookshop on wheels and the proprietor is seeking her author brother to purchase the wagon, she decides to purchase it herself and have an adventure. A charming novella that I fell in love with from the beginning.
reviewed Parnassus on Wheels (Parnassus, Bk 1) on + 13 more book reviews
This a great little book. A tale of a unappreciated woman who takes a chance on change and wins. Not too heavy not too light, just right. It helps if you love books and sharing them.


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