Monday, 25 June 2012

Parnassus on Wheels - Christopher Morley

 from Wikipedia:          
"The name "Parnassus" in literature typically refers to its distinction as the home of poetry, literature, and learning; the Montparnasse area in Paris, France, for example, bears its name from the many literature students who recited poetry in the streets, who as a result nicknamed it "(le) Mont Parnasse".

96 pages only, so you have time to fit it in to life's busy schedule somewhere.  And you must! What a charming little novella this was about a 39 year old spinster who, against her brother's wishes, buys a caravan full of books (the parnassus of the title), a horse to draw it, and a dog for company and sets off on the roads of New England.  Having been her farmer brother's housekeeper, it is soon clear that he wants to thwart her, and in a most disagreeable way too.  Roger Mifflin, who sold her the parnassus and the stock, wants to go home to Brooklyn and write a book.  But he finds he cannot let go quite as easily as he thought.  Imagine thinking that you were definitely over the hill at 39!  Helen McGill, having bought the parnassus and set off on her little "holiday", finds life more exciting than she thought - and who would think that a balding little ginger-bearded man would  be anyone's idea of a hero.........

Christopher Morley was an American journalist and novelist whose most famous novel was Kitty Foyle, written in 1939 and made into an Academy winning film.   I would certainly look out for more of his books as this was such a joy, full of nods to other literature, and suggestions of what kind of book should be sold to whom.  The caravan of books was called the Parnassus, and I had no idea what that meant until I looked it up on Wikipedia, hence the paragraph at the top.  As you have probably noticed, there is no cover picture for this book.  That's because in the UK the publisher chose to illustrate the cover with an "old master" - huh - of various persons wandering the hillside which is topped by a Greek temple of sorts.  Why couldn't a fabulous drawing of the Parnassus have been done?  Answers on a postcard please........