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