A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with pre-conceived notions, so they always find exactly what they go looking for. I told him I’d go looking for the England of English literature, and he said:
“Then it’s there.”
84, Charing Cross Road is the address of bookshop Marks & Co, where Helene Hanff, located in the US, writes letters requesting titles she would like to buy from the bookshop. In the book we find these letters, and the answers she received, over the twenty years during which Helene exchanged letters mostly with employee Frank Doel. Even though they do not meet face to face, Helene establishes a friendship with Frank and his fellow employees.
All of you who recommended this to me were right. As I might have known in advance. I loved 84, Charing Cross Road. It has so much of what I love in a good read: letter exchanges, literary references, friendships established over bookish talk, and just an overall sense of goodwill and humour.
I find I have very little to say about this book except that if you are a little bit of a bookworm, and if you like the idea of long-distance friendships founded over shared hobbies, or are very fond of second-hand bookshops, go read this small volume.
I can imagine that this might very well turn into one of those go-to comfort books. Which means I definitely need to own it! I just saw that Virago Modern Classics once released a cloth bound hardback volume. It appears to be unavailable at the moment. I kind of want it though. Although I also like the various covers that feature letter boxes. Those are bound to disappear from memory as we exchange letters for emails?
Oh, and I couldn’t help but include that first quote, because guess where I’m going mid-December? And guess what England (or London, in my case) I will go looking for?
Other Opinions: Books and Movies, Literate Housewife, eclectic/eccentric, Things Mean a Lot, A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook, Savidge Reads, It’s All About Books, MarysLibrary, Unputdownables, Start Narrative Here, My Porch, The Reading Life, Whimpulsive, at home with books, Jenny’s Books, Bart’s Bookshelf, Rebecca Reads, The Literary Stew, Book Harbinger, Sophisticated Dorkiness, Buried in Print, Care’s Online Book Club, DizzyC’s Little Book Blog, Pages of Julia, Citizen Reader, One Librarian’s Book Reviews, the bluestocking society, A Bookish Way of Life, the book nest, tiny little reading room, Both Eyes Book Blog, Fingers & Prose, You’ve GOTTA Read This, Library Queue, You can never have too many books, Chachic’s Book Nook, Coffeespoons, Nose in a book, The Written World, A Work in Progress, Whispering Gums, Verity’s Virago Venture, Books, Time and Silence, Sassymonkey Reads, Blue-hearted Bookworm, Alita Reads, The Broke and the Bookish, Jeanette’s Books.
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