Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

Title: The Haunted Bookshop
Author: Christopher Morley
J.B. Lippincott, 1955 (Originally published 1919)
Rating: C-

First Line: If you are ever in Brooklyn, that borough of superb sunsets and magnificent vistas of husband-propelled baby-carriages, it is to be hoped you may chance upon a quiet by-street where there is a very remarkable bookshop.

A couple of years ago, Christopher Morley's Parnassus On Wheels was one of the books I enjoyed reading the most, so I was very happy to obtain a copy of the follow-up to it. The Haunted Bookshop follows Roger and Helen Mifflin to Brooklyn, New York, where Roger has a dream come true: he opens his own bookstore.

In short order, the couple find themselves with a mysterious disappearing and reappearing book; a rich friend insists on sending his daughter to them so she can work in their store and learn the value of hard work and a paycheck; and a young man in the advertising business becomes involved with the mystery book and falls in love with the beautiful young heiress.

All this could've been great fun. The young man in particular could be very amusing because most of his thinking was heavily influenced by ad copy and the popular magazines and movies of the day:

For one terrible moment he thought she was going to cry. But he remembered having seen heroines cry in the movies, and knew it was only done when there was a table and chair handy.

But the humor was buried under Morley's insistence in having Roger Mifflin-- formerly a very caring and observant character-- spout speech after speech on his views of truly great literature, war, and peace. Although I did agree with Morley's viewpoints on almost every topic, I did not appreciate being continuously beat over the head with his opinions.

If those diatribes had been excised from this book, it would have been a charming sequel to Parnassus On Wheels. Oh well. You win some... and you lose some. My advice would be to read Parnassus On Wheels and give The Haunted Bookshop a miss.

[Source: Paperback Swap.]


  1. That's too bad, the title sounds so good. I may try Parnassus, Thanks for the review.

  2. Disappointing! The title is certainly eye-catching, but it does sound tedious.

  3. Sorry to hear you were disappointed. It is annoying, though, to feel one's being beaten over the head about something.

  4. I'll take your advice -- there are so many books that are sure to be winners, I'll pass this one up.

  5. I'll take your advice on this one. Thanks!

  6. I actually downloaded both of these books to my kindle a few months back. Now I know which one to start with! Thanks for the terrifically honest review.

  7. Sandra-- You're welcome. I loved Parnassus, so I hope you can give that one a try.

    Margaret-- The sections of diatribe certainly were tedious!

    Margot K-- Yes, it is!

    Beth-- Good idea!

    Kathy-- You're welcome!

    Molly-- You're very welcome. I know many book bloggers won't post negative reviews, but I do feel that they have merit. I know that I've read negative reviews and actually gone out and purchased the book because the things that annoyed the reviewer were things that I enjoy. :)

  8. I will definitely have to give Parnassus a go, then. I must admit, given the choice based on title alone, I would have lunged for The Haunted Bookshop if it weren't for your review!

  9. Belle-- You bring up something I hadn't thought of, and you're right. By title alone, I would've chosen this book and left the other alone (if I weren't such a fanatic about reading books in order)!

  10. Ugh those diatribes would have prompted me to give it less than a c-!

    Thanks for the honest review.

    Don't we all dream of owning/living in bookshops?


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