This book is a follow up to Morley's Parnassus on Wheels. Here rather than a traveling bookshop, the setting is a bricks and mortar shop in Brooklyn. I was definitely disappointed with this second book, starring the same characters. Where the first book made no mention of WWI, this book beat me over the head with it. It was written in 1919. Lots of lecturing by Roger Mifflin, the protag of Parnassus. The tone is very anti-German. Where I found Mifflin to be lovable and passionate and maybe a tad eccentric in Parnassus, here I found him to be a long-winded bore. I felt like I was trapped in a room with a boring history professor. There was no way for me to escape. I have found I can't generally skim because I'm sure I'll miss something critical (unless it's gory, then I skip away), so I slogged through many speeches on war. I kept chanting as I read along: two stars, two stars, two stars. The author had a section about the masks we wear around others, always hiding our true selves. I felt like he was trying too hard and should've stuck to the lighter tone of Parnassus. Then,
the focus moved from Mifflin to our hero, Aubrey Gilbert. Aubrey has romantic feelings for Titania, the beautiful young woman working in Mifflin's shop. Aubrey is sure there's something underhanded and possibly dangerous going on in the bookstore , so he decides to investigate before anyone (Titania) gets hurt. Aubrey works at an advertising agency, and he can't seem to turn off that part if his brain. In every situation, he thought of a way to sell a product. I quite enjoyed those bits. That part of the story was fun and earned it another star.
Back to what I didn't like.I hated the treatment of the dog Bock in both books. In Parnassus, Mifflin sells his bookmobile to Helen McGill, including his horse and dog. Okay, I'm not a horse person, so I could kind of see that he considered the horse a working animal needed to pull the caravan but to just give away a dog you've had for ten years! Ten years! And he gives him away to a stranger!
Maybe I'm taking this too personally. A few years ago, I saw a picture of a grizzled old chocolate lab in the local paper. He was ten years old and free for adoption. I took one look at those sad brown eyes and knew I had to have him. My husband was less sure. We had another lab and two cats already. When I called to get the story on Bodhi, I was told the owners were a young couple who were moving to Florida. They took Bodhi's 11-year-old mother with them and brought Bodhi to the pound. Separated him from his mother! Once my husband heard that, it was a done deal. Bodhi was the best dog ever! We only had him for three short years, but it was the best decision ever. My sweet Bodhi boy.
So anyway, back to the book. It bothered me that he just gave Bock away in Parnassus. Regarding the second book, let's just say I was not happy with Bock's role.
On a positive and final note, I learned a new word, always fun. A librocubicularist is someone who reads in bed! That's me!