1917. Days of innocence and wonder. Well, except for the unpleasantness across the pond. Why do we always think past eras were so much more innocent and simpler than the days in which we live? My Dear One and I were discussing TV shows of the 50’s and how sweet they were, more innocent, and that some of the stuff which we thought was so funny back then would hardly get a yawn today. Has it always been thus? Or are we simply engaging in a nostalgia for something that never really was?
Nineteen seventeen is when Christopher Morley wrote his charming tale of a rolling bookstore, and yes, love, too. The original owner of the business, Roger Mifflin, sells it to 39-year-old Helen McGill, who is tired of living a humdrum life on a farm, taking care of her older brother, Andrew. Helen buys it to treat herself to a long-overdue adventure of her own.
I loved this book, partially because of its genuine sweetness, and partially because of all the literary references and quotes scattered within it. The idea of traveling around the countryside with the prototype Airstream pulled by a horse, selling books, has a compelling charm, doesn’t it. The original owner, Mr. Mifflin, would dine with his country farm families and recommend readings that would suit them. What a lovely idea. Kind of like Goodreads meets Amazon on horseback.
It is considered a Classic, but don’t let that put you off. It is a lovely read. I particularly recommend reading it while lounging gracefully on cushions in a canoe, one hand trailing lazily in the river, the other holding the book, parasol overhead, as some muscular somebody paddles their little heart out. Not not that I have ever had the pleasure of such an experience. It is on my Bucket List. Any volunteers for the paddling thereof?
Oh, by the way, it has a sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, and both books are available as free downloads all over the net. Just google.