Author: Helene Hanff
Published: Penguin 1990 (orig. 1970)
My Rating: 5 stars
What a delightful little treasure to have found! Thanks to Wallace at Unputdownables, I've discovered Helene Hanff. Where on earth have I been that I haven't heard of her? It was the review on Q's Legacy (which I should be shortly receiving from my new favorite indie bookstore) that sold me. Now I'm convinced--not only of my love for her, but that everyone needs to read her AND have her on the bookshelf.
84, Charing Cross Road, in case you are unfamiliar, is a collection of short letters between Helene in New York, and a used book dealer in London. The letters were written between 1949 and 1969, and were first published in 1970. Truly, I do not believe any fictional collection of letters could be more entertaining. In her second letter to Marks & Co. she says:
Will you please translate your prices hereafter? I don't add too well in plain American, I haven't a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.It's amazing that these small letters centering around books built such a relationship between the correspondents. The story is so complete, and yet so seemingly sparse in words. I've heard the film adaptation is fabulous as well. Because of its small size it is easy to fit in your schedule; because of its large payoff, it is easy for me to insist that you must fit it in as soon as may be!