Morley, Christopher. The Haunted Bookshop. I understand why most bloggers prefer Parnassus on Wheels. Morley gets a bit didactic at times, and the mystery part seems forced. While I wish Mr. Morley had spent more time with Roger and Helen (whose "courtship" was detailed in Parnassus on Wheels) and with the delicious aspects of the shop and books therein, I did enjoy this sequel.
WWI weighs heavily on Mr. Morley's mind (The Haunted Bookshop was published in 1919), and he injects the subject at every opportunity and even has Roger dedicate an entire section to anti-war literature. He mentions Siegfried Sassoon as one of the war poets Titania must read, and I certainly agree with him there; Sassoon's war poetry is excellent. He puts forth Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts as "The book that should have prevented the war."
But I wasn't reading the book for anti-war sentiments or for the mystery, but for the relationship of Roger and Helen and books. Roger's genuine enthusiasm about the importance of books is a pleasure, and Titania's eager apprenticeship made me smile.
Roger has added some finishing touches to Titania's room by selecting the books for the bookshelf, and says, "And maybe a copy of Ezra Pound's poems. I do hope she's not what Helen calls a bolshevixen" (65).
Roger was also proud of a clipping from Life:
ON THE RETURN OF A BOOK LENT TO A FRIEND:
I GIVE humble and hearty thanks for the safe return of this book which having endured the perils of my friend's bookcase, and the bookcases of my friend's friends, now returns to me in reasonably good condition.
I GIVE humble and hearty thanks that my friend did not see fit to give this book to his infant as a plaything, nor use it as an ash-tray for his burning cigar, nor as a teething-ring for his mastiff.
WHEN I lent this book I deemed it as lost: I was resigned to the bitterness of the long parting: I never thought to look upon its pages again.
BUT NOW that my book is come back to me,I rejoice and am exceeding glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the voulme and set it on the shelf of honor: for this my book was lent, and is returned again.
PRESENTLY, therefore, I may return some of the books that I myself have borrowed.
Fiction. 253 pp. copyright 1919.