In 1917, Christopher Morley published Parnassus on Wheels, a love letter to the art of bookselling. Its suspenseful sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, finds his beloved characters married and still in love with both mystery and literature.
Set in a lovingly evoked Brooklyn just after the end of World War I, The Haunted Bookshop cleverly juxtaposes a pair of middle-aged bookshop owners and two young lovers with a nest of German saboteurs, complete with mysterious clues, red herrings, blushing romance, derring-do, a desperate race to the rescue, and an explosion. More important, the novel is an eloquent hymn to the bookseller's trade and a fervent plea for the revivifying and redemptive power of literature. The unifying thread of this book, and indeed of the life and work of its author, is its passionate avowal: all that the world and everybody in it needs is a good book.
©2014 Christopher Morley (P)2014 Skyboat Media
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"Better Off Imagining A Sequel..."
Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Did poor narration make the sequel boring, or did writing that dragged and dragged and dragged give the narrator nothing to work with?
One of the problems is that "The Haunted Bookshop" seemed really conflicted about what it was trying to be. Charming? A tiny bit of that. Mystery? Tiny bit. Espionage? Tiny bit. Romance? Itty bit. SEVERAL bombastic lectures about many, many books, eras, authors, not even parsed out as discussions but vomited onto the page as diatribes? Oooooh, plenty, PLENTY of that! And keep in mind that Stefan Rudnicki's voice is that of an anchorman, or an historian. Considering that this novel takes place after World War I, I could easily hear Rudnicki narrating a lengthy historical work on the time period, and that would have been fine. This, however? What little charm there might have been was lost.
I would've missed Nadia May from "Parnassus On Wheels," but the characters were missing here, and she would've had nothing to work with. It was odd, really. In the last book, there was some scrapping that went on, but that just seemed like some hardheadedness. Here, I found individuals to be, quite simply, obnoxious and foul. Go figure.
I missed the characters, I guess.
Once again, I'll advise: If you do wish to listen to this: Get the kindle whispersync for cheap first, so you can get the special audible price. Trust me, you don't want to pay full price for this one...
"Old fashioned adventure yarn."
This is a sweet story about a man and his love of literature and the people who support him and find love in the haunted bookstore.
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