Friday, October 22, 2010

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross RoadTitle: 84, Charing Cross Road
Author: Helene Hanff
Pages: 97
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!


  1. Love the book, love the movie. Really great.

  2. I read this book for the first time a few months ago and like you I wondered how in the world I had missed it all these years. I think your description is perfect; it is "a delightful little treasure". I thought it was an absolute joy to read and I look forward to reading it again. It's this kind of discovery that makes reading surely the best pastime ever invented!

  3. Yours is the second review of 84, Charing Cross Road I've seen in probably as many days! I don't think I knew what it was about before, but tounds delightful. I must find a copy!

  4. I've noticed a few reviews of this book floating around book blog-o-sphere lately, and it really deserves the praise it gets. It was so short and simple that I was surprised how great it was. I'll be keeping it around to reread it often. :)


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