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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Parnassus on Wheels or Oh, What Fun!

Helen McGill never expected to be an author. Or to have adventures. Or to, I don't want to reveal too much, but Helen never expected that at almost 40 , her life would take a rather amazing turn.

One crisp fall morning in 1907, Helen's domestic life is interrupted when a robin's egg blue wagon, "something like an old-fashioned trolley car," pulled by a fat white horse arrives in her yard. A strange little man hops out and raises the side of the wagon "like a flap" and reveals shelf after shelf of books. The little man hands Helen his card:


Worth friends, my wain doth hold
Many a book, both new and old;
Books, the truest freinds of man,
Fill this rolling caravan.
Books on cookery and farming,
Novels passionate and charming,
Every kind for every need
So that he who buys may read.
What librarian can surpass us.

And thereby hangs a tale...

A delightful book, published in 1917, Parnassus on Wheels contains the innocence of a lost era, a woman ahead of her time, age-old wisdom and love of learning.


  1. I keep hearing how great this book is, I am going to have to read it, too now. Does it have a dated feel to it in terms of the writing?

  2. Danielle - Several times I found myself thinking how fresh and modern this little novel is in so many ways. The style is occasionally old-fashioned, but the attitude is not. It is also short, almost too short, because these are characters you really want more of.

    In fact, I'm half way in love with Christopher Morley and can't wait for The Haunted Bookshop to arrive.

  3. That sounds fantastic!!! I love the little poem and am now very intrigued.

  4. Jen, this one and The Haunted Bookshop are in my stack taunting many things to do this month and all I really want to do is curl up with a quilt, a book and a cup of tea! I'm reading Death in the Garden right now..I do like it ...

  5. Another new one for my ever-growing list. You do make it sound like one I need to read.

  6. Carl - For anyone who loves books, this is the ticket!

    Debby - This one is short and fun. I love the quilt, book, and tea scenario!

    Booklogged - I think you'd like it!

  7. I love the title. Definitely one to add to the list. I'll look forward to reding how you like The Haunted Bookshop.

  8. Framed - I'm still waiting for The Haunted Bookshop to arrive, but I'm definitely eager to continue the relationship.

  9. I loved Parnassus on Wheels as well. I was charmed by it much the way I was charmed by I Capture the Castle and The Enchanted April. The content of these books isn't really similar, but somehow the feeling that each gave me was. I recently had the good fortune to come across a copy of The Haunted Bookshop at a library book sale and I'm looking forward to reading it.

  10. Kate - I agree. All three were originally published before 1950 (Parnassus - 1917, April - 1922, Castle - 1948), and all have a freshness, genuinely likable characters, and an innocence about them. They make me want to take part in their lives...

  11. I loved this book. The sequel is not as good, but still a nice read.