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84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

March 22, 2012

I just finished this lovely book. I haven’t loved a book this much in ages!

84 Charing Cross Road is a series of letters between Helene a New York writer and Frank who works at an antiquarian bookshop in London.

It all begins when Helene sees an advert and writes to the booksellers Marks and Co to request a book. Slowly a regular correspondence begins between her and Frank. There is such a strong contrast between her brash American forwardness and Frank’s professional English politeness. It is both intriguing and touching to see the friendship blossom on paper, 3000 miles between the two recipients. The book covers twenty years of letters between 1949 and 1969 and what’s most amazing is that the two never meet.

It’s hard to write too much without giving the end away. The book is such a treat to read I don’t want to say too much! I just really really loved it. There’s a bit of everything in there from hysterical laughter to heartfelt tears.

Highlights of the book include the additional letters from Franks family and colleagues. I also loved the descriptions of the food packages that Helene sends to Frank and his colleagues during rationing.
There is a lovely part where Helene describes a hand embroidered Irish linen table cloth that was made by Frank’s neighbour and sent to her as a gift.

I think I probably like the book best because I understand the feelings Helene feels when she receives each perfect antique book. I myself love old books and old bookshops! I wish I had my own Frank Doel to write to!

There is a film of the book but I’m not sure I would want to watch it, because it has Anthony Hopkins in it and he creeps me out, also I saw a clip on YouTube and didn’t like it. I personally think a story of letters, about books should stay on paper! However Hanff as a screen writer would not agree!

The book is something really special, a little peep into the lives of the subjects and a wonderful story of character. It’s so special that the people now gone will live on a little bit through this book.

I have to give it 5 out of 5 because I love it!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    After reading your review, I have immediately added it to my ‘to-read’ list! It sounds delightful 🙂

    • Reply
      March 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      Thank you! It really is a lovely book. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2012 at 5:41 am

    I do love the movie, though. It is terribly sweet. I own it and watch it every now and again.

    • Reply
      March 23, 2012 at 7:25 am

      Maybe I’ll give it a go then. I’ve read nothing but good reviews, just not sure!

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