Wednesday, 13 August 2008

84 Charing Cross Road

Title: 84 Charing Cross Road

Author: Helene Hanff

Number of pages: 230

Started: 10 August 2008

Finished: 13 August 2008

Opening words:

October 5, 1959


Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialise in out-of-print books. The phrase 'antiquarian book-sellers' scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive. I am a poor write with an anteriquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions, or in Barnes & Noble's grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies.

I enclose a list of my most pressing problems. If you have clean secondhand copies of any of the books on the list, for no more than $5.00 each, will you consider this a purchase order and send them to me?

Very truly yours,
Helene Hanff

Plot summary:
84 Charing Cross Road is a 1970 book by Helene Hanff, later made into a stage play and film, about the twenty-year correspondence between her and Frank Doel of Marks & Co, antiquarian booksellers located at the eponymous address in London, England.

Summary taken from Wikipedia

What I thought:

This was a very speedy read. It actually only took me couple of hours to read the book – there were actually two books in this volume, the other being The Duchess of Bloomsbury, which took a bit longer to read.

84 Charing Cross Road is a charming correspondence that took place over many years between a British bookseller and an American customer. It is just a gentle read of what they wrote to each other (and a few letters that others chipped in when they could). A pleasant read.

The Duchess of Bloomsbury was the follow on story of when Helen Hanff came to London for the first time - which was after her correspondent had died and the bookshop itself had closed. It was a readable and charming insight into London and one woman’s finally achieving her ambition of seeing the England that she had previously only dreamed of and seen through books.

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