The Haunted Bookshop
The Haunted Bookshop
"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...”
Roger and Helen Mifflin own "Parnassus at Home," a Brooklyn used-book store on Gissing Avenue (all the proper names in the book, by the way, have literary origins and come from the names of authors or characters or publishers).
Roger Mifflin is a pleasant and rambling middle aged man, devoted to the trade of selling used books.
He is quite idealistic about this, and about reading in general. Indeed, he's rather a snob about reading, not going in much for popular fiction, unless it happens to be popular fiction he likes. Which would be OK except for the way he disapproves of other people reading books he doesn't like.
A young advertising writer named Aubrey Gilbert visits Roger and Helen.
“He knew his disadvantages in literary conversation, for he had gone to an excellent college where glee clubs and theatricals had left him little time for reading. But still he was a lover of good books, though he knew them chiefly by hearsay...”
Then the prune magnate George Chapman gets them to hire his pretty daughter Titania as a live-in clerk.
Meanwhile a mystery develops concerning disappearing and reappearing copies of a collection of Oliver Cromwell's letters and speeches.
Eventually Gilbert rescues Titania and Roger from a bomb-throwing villain.
Published in 1919, The Haunted Bookshop provides ample doses of diversion, while allowing room for Christopher Morley) to expound on the intricacy and pleasures of the bookseller’s art.
CHRISTOPHER MORLEY (1890-1957) was a journalist, poet, and novelist, quite well known in his day. He was one of the founders of The Baker Street Irregulars and a longtime contributing editor of the Saturday Review of Literature. Morley's 1939 novel Kitty Foyle was extraordinary for its time, as it openly discussed abortion. It became an instant best seller, selling over one million copies.