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Parnassus on Wheels

Christopher Morley

Book Overview: 

Parnassus on Wheels is about a fictional traveling book-selling business. The original owner of the business, Roger Mifflin, sells it to 39-year-old Helen McGill, who is tired of taking care of her ailing older brother, Andrew. (summary from wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I've been there three or four times—and he'll buy about five dollars' worth if I know him. First time I went there I sold him 'Treasure Island,' and he's talking about it yet. I sold him 'Robinson Crusoe,' and 'Little Women' for his daughter, and 'Huck Finn,' and Grubb's book about 'The Potato.' Last time I was there he wanted some Shakespeare, but I wouldn't give it to him. I didn't think he was up to it yet."

I began to see something of the little man's idealism in his work. He was a kind of traveling missionary in his way. A hefty talker, too. His eyes were twinkling now and I could see him warming up.

"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. Jiminy! If I were the baker or the butcher or the broo. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Not as smooth or clever as Morley's later writing, but very sweet and fun!

Come on, what book lover could hate a short novel about driving around in a horse-drawn wagon bringing books to the bookless?

This is a pilot for a new feel-good tv series:

Opening Credits:
It is a glorious morning on a deserted track somewhere in the rural Midwest. Rolling on the lane is a long gypsy-type wagon being pulled by a great big horse. On the open seat up front holding the reins is a cheery man of middle years...more

"What absurd victims of contrary desires we are! If a man is settled in one place he yearns to wander; when he wanders he yearns to have a home. And yet how bestial is content—all the great things in life are done by discontented people."

-- Roger Mifflin of Mifflin's Travelling Parnassus

This is a...more

" ... when you sell a man a book you don't just sell him 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."

I read this delightful little novella this afternoon. I bought it a...more

Without Goodreads friends I would never have been introduced to this utterly charming novella, written in 1917.

Perhaps it is less known than other books which we classify as "classics" because Parnassus on Wheels does not bridge adult and children's fiction, as do "Treasure Island" or "Huckleber...more

This was a delightful little treasure! Miss Helen McGill, spinster of 39 years, did not realize how tired she was of keeping house for her brother, until the offer was made to buy the book wagon, Parnassus, and she began to count how many loaves of bread she had made over the years! How Mr. Morle...more

This is an old-fashioned, sweet novella published in 1917, about a self-described "fat old woman" (she's only 39) who's never done anything but work as a governess and, later, cook and keep house for her bachelor brother, Andrew. Helen is content with her existence until her brother decides to st...more

What is a good book?

".…A good book ought to have something simple about it. And, like Eve, it ought to come from somewhere near the third rib; there ought to be a heart beating in it."

Check, check and check.

This is a simple, sweet story (160 pages) about a bookstore on wheels called Parnassus, th...more

I'll admit to being sort of torn on how many stars to give this story. At times I feel like I'm a little too liberal with how I fling 5 stars around at book reviews. In this case, the story wasn't anything so complex. It was just a short, simple adventure vaguely reminiscent of The Adventures of...more

Igual es un poco exagerado darle 5 estrellas, pero a mí me ha encantado y me he divertido muchísimo.

La historia es más simple que el mecanismo de un sonajero: nos habla de Helen McGill, que es una granjera junto con su hermano Andrew en la segunda década del siglo XX. Un día aparece un carromato,...more

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