If you haven't read 84, Charing Cross Road then you MUST GO READ IT IMMEDIATELY. I had never even heard of this book or this author until I read the review of it in SF where my interest was piqued. The book consists of letters sent between Helene who lived in New York and a man named Frank Doel who worked at an antiquarian bookstore called Marks and Co in London. The first letter was sent by Helene in 1949 and their correspondence continued for 20 years. Eventually, other coworkers from the store would start writing letters to Helene and she would develop a friendship with Frank's wife and daughters. I was so moved by these letters. They were real and beautiful. Helene is hilarious and crotchety. Frank comes across as uptight and somewhat aloof (until Helene breaks him of that). The second half of this book which was not a part of the original print...well I don't want to spoil it for you. Let's just say that it was extraordinarily easy for me to see myself in Helene's place. This is a woman that wrote from the heart and it's like...gosh. Ya'll I can't find the words to describe just how much I loved this book. I want to start right back at the beginning and I just closed the back cover. This has high rereadability. (Google tells me that isn't a real word but I refuse to believe that.) Go forth, readers. You won't regret it. 11/10
The fact that this whole story did happen in reality was something so overwhelming that nothing else mattered much. Though they had shared everything through letters yet the only regret for me was that Helene and Frank could not meet in person till the end.
I loved Helene's sense of humor. I liked how boldly she use to make her point without hesitation. In fact i was happy to know i am not the only one who buys book after reading it.
Also, two things i learnt from this book or rather from Helene is that.. Firstly, There is no harm in buying secondhand books in fact sometimes its useful. Secondly , this quote
“I houseclean my books every spring and throw out those I’m never going to read again like I throw out clothes I’m never going to wear again. It shocks everybody……’ ‘ ..…you buy a book, you read it, you put it on the shelf, you never open it again for the rest of your life but YOU DON’T THROW IT OUT! NOT IF IT HAS A HARD COVER ON IT! Why not? I personally can’t think of anything less sacrosanct than a bad book or even a mediocre book.”
So I think like her even i am going to giveaway those books which i will never read ever again in my life.
This book was a birthday gift to me (from myself). I enjoyed reading it while travelling.
84, Charing Cross Road is a slim collection of letters sent between Helene Hanff, a New Yorker working on the Ellery Queen TV show, and Marks & Co., a London shop that sold used/rare books. It's the slangy, sarcastic, informal American vs. the proper, reserved Brits, with humor and goodwill on both sides.
The book, although slight, is entertaining, and I'm a sucker for the epistolary format. I did wonder where Helene kept finding the money over the years to buy these books and to send care packages overseas to the Brits, but not to actually go visit them. Curious. I also wondered how the letters came to be published. Finally, how did Helene find out about the book shop in the first place? The world was a much bigger place back then, after all. An afterward giving a little more of the context would have been appreciated.
But this is nitpicking. I'd recommend this one for epistolary fans and those interested in post-WW II England and America. It shouldn't take you more than a few hours to knock it out.