If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me I owe it so much This was my second reading of the book, and I m adding a star to my original rating I laughed a lot harder this time, and even got a little choked up near the end I don t recall this much chortling, cackling, guffawing and snorting on my first time through The contrast between Helene Hanff s brash American informality and Frank Doel s staid British professionalism is delightful There s a certain charm in his politeness, while at the same time one wonders how long it will take for him to loosen up His first letter to Helene beginsDear Madam , to which she repliesI hope madam doesn t mean over there what it does hereHer humor and generosity did slowly erode his reserve, but it took years As she put itI write them the most outrageous letters from a safe 3,000 miles away Outrageous they are, and charmingly witty I remember when e mail first started to take hold in the early 1990s I was working for a professor who mentioned to me that it was ahistorical We would henceforth have no permanent record of most of our written communication His comments stayed in my mind while I happily made the switch from snail mail to electronic Re reading this little treasury of collected letters made me think perhaps we ve lost than just an outdated form of contact. Letters, literature, friendships, kindness and humor fill the pages of this small volume It s a gift from Helene Hanff to anyone who loves books Not much I can say except that all book lovers should read it Long distance friendships and books a lot like Goodreads. The epistolary meanderings of Helene Hanff and Frank Dole are insightful, playful in their coyness, and progressive in their development This is an actual correspondence gone awfully right.There is a starkness of honesty in this correspondence Yet the prose in the letters aren t quite as dry as might be feared Like I said, the back and forth is progressive There is definitely life in these letters This real occurrence happens after the second world war the last three words of which is a favorite book of mine The books that are being requested by Helene are not the point of this book It s just that there is a fictional value in these exchanges These people lived I enjoyed this little book immensely, hence the rating. After hearing about this book for years, I finally stumbled upon a 2 ex libris copy earlier this week at a used book sale And without pausing I bought it How appropriate It consists of the correspondence, from the late 1940s until the late 1960s, between New York writer and bibliophile Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, an employee at Marks Co Booksellers at the eponymous address in London Hanff was a voracious, eclectic reader who couldn t find good American editions of the books she wanted to read Responding to an advertisement in a periodical, she wrote to Marks Co., and began her two decades long epistolary relationship with Doel.Her chatty, witty and often teasing letters requesting books and Frank s conservative, straightlaced missives form the backbone of the work As their long distance, customer bookseller relationship evolves, Hanff occasionally writes to other store employees, as well as Doel s wife, the couple s daughters and the family s elderly neighbour What gradually emerges is a gentle and moving look at two kindred spirits united by their love of the printed word Hanff s descriptions of the physical books are so vivid I can practically smell and feel the sturdy covers and the thick, creamy pages The book also touches on their differing cultures, Hanff s writing characterized by frank forthrightness, Doel s, although no less friendly, by a certain civility and politeness.Their correspondence isn t just about books, although there are some amusing, illuminating passages about Chaucer, Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen, John Donne and Laurence Sterne Early on, Hanff also sends care packages of food and stockings to the bookstore, much needed in a time of post World War II rationing.And there are subtle glimpses into history and the changing nature of society bookstore employees emigrate to other countries to try their luck the Doels save up money to buy their first used car Queen Elizabeth II is crowned Beatlemania descends on London.But what I love most of all is the portrait that emerges of Hanff herself A strong and independent single woman who would rather send cash in the mail than fuss with getting a money order, she starts out living in a tiny, cramped apartment and works her way up the publishing and radio drama worlds, drawing on much of her reading of literature thanks to the packages from 84, Charing Cross Road to create her plays What I also admire is how uncluttered this book is There were other letters, but Hanff trusts the reader to do the work to connect the dots By reading a reply we can intuit what s being replied to There are no baggy, self important, italicized passages about what s in the letters themselves And the graceful ending is stunning in its understatement.One thought Hanff and Doel s comments about books and literature remind me of the Goodreads community I ve found here I likely will never meet IRL as they say the people whose reviews and updates I like and comment on, but that doesn t mean our interactions aren t profound, meaningful and lasting.This is a book, for and about book lovers, to cherish. I love this book and love the film they made of it too It is sloppy and sweet and warm and, you know, just right It is the sort of book one could read in an hour or two over a pot of tea on a cold winter s afternoon and just enjoy Pure delight.If you needed to be reminded that love of literature is as good a foundation of love of the world as any other religion , that the people we write to can be closer and dearer to us than those we see day after day then this really is a book written to remind you of just that. An easy 5 stars I listened to this lovely short audiobook It s completely charming The voices are perfect And in an odd way it reminded me of what I love about Goodreads Strangers connecting over their mutual love of books Slowly the book focused repartee morphs into a real sense of affinity and frienship.A bit of warmth to ease the dark cold days of November A nice relief from the miserable state of world politics.I m late to this party, but I highly recommend it especially the audio. Loved every single page of this wonderful little novel, told in letters The lost art of letter writing, but amazing how much we can tell of the relationship between the author in New York and a bookstore in London Requesting books to be sent to her she makes the acquaintance of Frank Dole, his wife, his neighbor and other employees of the bookstore Starts out as a purely business relationship we can tell letter by letter as they become friendly, discussing their families, friends, jobs and other events going on in the world at the time, particularly the rationing that was still in place in London after the war.Made me want to go out and buy a brand new gorgeous stationary set and write my friends some letters Wonderful, wonderful book. A beautiful, sincere and humorous correspondence between a writer in New York Helen looking for unique books all the time and having them shipped over from Europe and a bookstore manager in London over the years Fun, nostalgic read with a smile. This Charming Classic, First Published In , Brings Together Twenty Years Of Correspondence Between Helene Hanff, A Freelance Writer Living In New York City, And A Used Book Dealer In London Through The Years, Though Never Meeting And Separated Both Geographically And Culturally, They Share A Winsome, Sentimental Friendship Based On Their Common Love For Books Their Relationship, Captured So Acutely In These Letters, Is One That Will Grab Your Heart And Not Let Go Lovely Charming A book lover s book.
Helene Hanff April 15, 1916 April 9, 1997 was an American writer Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she is best known as the author of the book 84 Charing Cross Road, which became the basis for a play, teleplay, and film of the same name.Her career, which saw her move from writing unproduced plays to helping create some of the earliest television dramas to becoming a kind of professional New Y
- 97 pages
- 84, Charing Cross Road
- Helene Hanff
- 19 August 2017 Helene Hanff