Sunday, January 11, 2009

84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Book 1 of 3 for the Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge
Book 4 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 2 of 25 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge

rating: 5 of 5 stars

I heard a lot about this book in conjunction with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I read last year. Both books are epistolary in nature containing letters between a bookseller and a collector. However 84, Charing Cross Road is the real-life account of Helene Hanff's correspondence with the employees of Marks & Co. bookshop in London beginning in 1949.

Most of the letters are between Helene and Frank Doel, although Frank's wife, a neighbor and other Marks & Co. employees wrote as well. Unlikely friends (Helene was a sarcastic, witty, cigarette-smoking, martini-drinking Jewish scriptwriter in New York and Frank was a conservative British bookseller) Helene and Frank wrote for nearly 20 years as Frank procured hard-to-find secondhand classic texts to suit Helene's eclectic literary taste. Helene appreciated the shop so much, she sent them generous food and clothing items that were rationed in England during the time and in return they sent her books and other gifts.

A story about the true nature of kindness and love, humanity and friendship, this is well worth the hour it takes to read it. This book is a real gem. It had me both laughing and teary-eyed. I highly recommended it!

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9 comments:

Eva said...

I've given you the Premio Dardos award! Check it out at http://evaentertained.blogspot.com/2009/01/thanks-quarterlife-query.html.

Emilia said...

I listened to a recording of this book when I was moving into my apartment in Princeton during a hot and sticky August week. I was thoroughly charmed by it all and remember wandering about the apartment alone that week, with a goofy smile on my face the whole time because of this book.

bermudaonion said...

I've been wanting to read this, because, like you I heard a lot about it in conjunction with Guernsey. I had no idea it's a real-life account. It sounds wonderful.

Melissa said...

Oh, so glad you liked this one. I totally agree: captivating and charming. I have yet to watch the movie to see if that's any good.

writemeg said...

I actually watched the movie a few months ago -- and had no idea a book was even in existence! My mom ordered it through Netflix; she said it "just sounded so much like me." And she was right! :) I'm definitely going to get the book at some point, too.

Jeanette said...

It seems that this book has had a bit of resurgence in readers since so many have been comparing it Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Kerry said...

I read this book many years ago and loved it. I thoroughly endorse your recommendation. It's a great book.

J. Kaye said...

What a review! Sort of left me speechless. Your feelings shined through in your words.

Corinne said...

OOOHH!! I got this on bookmooch! I'm so glad you liked it. I can't wait to read it :)