This book was a beautiful idea--which is actually just a twisted way of saying that I was intrigued by my own misconceptions. From something I'd read, (helped by the subtitle "A Delightful Account of a Lifelong Love Affair with Books") I was under the impression that I was going to get some details about how Helene Hanff (author of the delightful 84 Charing Cross Road) discovered and learned about literature.
Alas, that was not to be. Why must Expectations be such a powerful destroyer/maker of dreams?
What Q's Legacy actually is (which is easily discovered, apparently, by reading the back cover or any synopsis on the web you may happen to run into--who knew?) still has its own charm--never fear. It is a memoir of her career as a writer, for the most part, dipping into her visits to London as well.
While I deeply wished that she and I had spent this read browsing dusty shelves in old libraries, discovering wonderfully obscure yet extremely useful tidbits of information, Helene is a charming person doing perfectly mundane things as well. In some ways, this book did nothing to satisfy my curiosity about her; in others, I feared that if I knew more she'd become irritating (sad but true...eccentric personalities are called such for a reason, I'm afraid.) If you've read 84 Charing Cross Road (and if you haven't, you really should!) and it left you wanting to know more about Helene, then this is a perfectly good place to go next. In fact, it's part of a trilogy about her life, leaving only The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (which I haven't read) in between the two.
So maybe I didn't get what I wanted, but that's hardly Helene's fault. And besides, it knocked a book off my TBR shelf, so who am I to complain? Have you enjoyed anything by Helene? Please tell me you loved 84 Charing Cross Road...
My favorite quote--from page 97:
The whole book was so full of outraged capitals that reading it was like being continuously shouted at. When you finished you were just worn out.