Monday, July 16, 2018

84, Charing Cross Road; Helene Hanff



84, Charing Cross Road; Helene Hanff
Penguin - 1970


This book was such a lovely, charming and even sometimes funny memoir. A story that began with a simple letter inquiring about the availability of some used books.  Helene Hanff lived in New York City and worked as a freelance writer, she initiates a book inquiry letter. Frank Doel, is a proper Englishman who managed a used book store, 84, Charing Cross Road in London, the bookstore where Helene's first letter is sent. 

Helene and Frank never meet but correspond for over 20 years. Initially their letters seem to be mostly about books, but as the years go by the letters begin cover a variety of topics.  Where Helene is often witty, Frank is generally serious and proper. It was wonderful to see how over the years their letters change and a very special friendship develops. I found the ending unexpected and sad but, I was so happy I finally decided to read this slim gem of a book.

I immediately decided to watch the movie version of this memoir, staring Anthony Hopkins and Ann Bancroft, and, although I did like the movie, I loved the book even more.

Here is a paragraph from of the letters that Helene writes that made me chuckle ---

"Trust you and Nora had a fine holiday. Mine was spent in Central Park, I had a month's vacation from Joey, my dear little dentist, he went on his honeymoon.  I financed the honeymoon. Did I tell you he told me last spring I had to have all of my teeth capped or all of my teeth out?  I decided to have them capped as I have got used to having teeth. But the cost is simply astronomical.  So Elizabeth will have to ascend the throne without me, teeth are all I'm going to see crowned for the next couple of years."

Have you read this book or watched the movie?

Rating - 5/5 stars

24 comments:

  1. I loved this book, too, and had no idea there's a movie.

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  2. The writing seems witty and clever; what a fun book!

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  3. I've read it numerous times and have watched the movie, as well. Soooo good!

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  4. I haven't read this. The writing appeals to me, although the movie sounds even more tempting!

    Have a great week, Diane!

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    1. Very nice and short read as well. One of those that you read in one sitting.

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  5. I have read it and seen the movie. I agree the book is better and I loved it!

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    1. Judy, glad you enjoyed this as well; such a sweet exchange.

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  6. I read it so long ago but I remember I liked it.

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    1. I think most who have tried it found it special. Hope you are having a good week Mary.

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  7. This book has been on my tbr list for a really long time. It's good to know that you enjoyed it.

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    1. It's so sweet Vicki and one of those very short books that you will read in one sitting.

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  8. I love this book and have read it several times. Need to watch the movie...

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    1. It was so fun to read the exchange of letters and way the writing changed.

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  9. I read this book years ago and want to say I've seen the movie as well, but I can't quite remember. I'll have to watch for it.

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  10. One of my favorite non-fiction books, for sure. My copy has the additional piece she wrote about her trip to London after Frank had died. By the way, the building Frank lived in was the same apartment block that my husband grew up in! No kidding!

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    1. OMG, how cool about your husband growing up in the saw block. The book was just lovely.

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  11. I read this a couple if years ago and loved it.

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  12. Now you have me wanting to reread this! It's a favorite!

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  13. This is one of my all time favorites. It is a good thing to bond over books. Hope your weekend is going well. Hugs!

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