I know I'm catching the tail end, but I did want to write a quick post about the only novella I was able to manage this month for the August Art of the Novella Challenge. I think I ended up checking five different novellas out of the library, but I was only able to finish one. But it was delightful! If you're looking for a quick, fun read, this is one I'd highly recommend. It's a book about book lovers, and it's just 124 pages!
Published in 1917, Parnassus on Wheels is the prequel to Christopher Morley's The Haunted Bookshop. It's the story of Helen McGill, a 39-year-old spinster living with her brother on a farm in upstate New York. Her brother, Andrew McGill, is a well-regarded writer who purchased the farm after his business failed. Their departure to rural life inspired Andrew to write several popular books on the glories of country living and simpler times, etc, etc. However, now that Andrew is A Famous Novelist, he tends to wander off in search of new material, leaving her to carry on all the everyday work.
One day, a funny little man with a traveling caravan approaches the farm while Andrew is out. He is Roger Mifflin, the owner of a traveling bookshop, the eponymous Parnassus on Wheels, and he's ready to settle down. Roger thinks that Andrew is the perfect person to buy Parnassus lock, stock and barrel, but Helen has had enough. She knows that Andrew will buy the caravan and leave her again, carrying on all the responsibilities of the farm and the house while he's off gallivanting. She decides it's time she had her own adventures. Much to her brother's chagrin, she buys Parnassus for herself and takes off to make her fortune and spread the gospels of good literature to the masses.
This is a really fun book. Helen is a spunky heroine, Roger is quirky and charming, and hilarity ensues. Plus, there's lots of discussion and descriptions about great books. How could a bibliophile like myself not fall for a book with this quote:
"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!"
What is not to love? I finished the book in practically one sitting, and now I'm waiting for the sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, to arrive at my library branch.