Saturday, January 12, 2008

BOOK: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, 97 pages

themed reading challenge, another from something about me

Way back when, historia picked this as one of her Something About Me books because: Because I love reading anything about books - and I absolutely LOVED the movie. There were several glowing reviews at the blog by everyone who read this. I bought this one, big decision for me since it is a slim volume, to read for the Themed Reading Challenge, books about books.

What a delightful little collection! I didn't realize it was nonfiction until the end; I'm such a twit. Helene Hanff, a NY writer, begins a correspondence with a Marks & Co. in London. This book demonstrates a different time, before instant communication and was very charming. Helene would ask for a book, and they would find it and send it. Then, she would send a few dollars cash in the mail. They scrupulously kept track of the cents in credit and debit. Helene develops a relationship with the company, sending lots of packages to help the Brits through post war rationing. Travel was much more difficult in those days, as it is hard to imagine today she wouldn't just jump on a plane and hop over the pond to meet them.

It was also a different time in books and publishing, as Hanff was looking for books of letters and collections of essays, and specific editions of books. Or it just may be there is a whole world of book collectors that I am not familiar with at all. (seems more likely) I am also reading Remains of the Day right now; I am having difficulty adjusting to the 21st century since my reading life is decidedly early 20th century England. Both books would be excellent for Anglophiles with delightful slices of life in England.

If you enjoy books about books, or England, or need a quick read, you could try 84, Charing Cross Road. And there is also a movie? I must look into that.


  1. I haven't heard of this book before, but it does sound like a good one!!

    I love the new look of your blog, by the way!!

  2. It's a good movie, too - though there was a big gap between my reading the book and seeing it, I thought it really captured the spirit of the book.

    The new look blog is great, I like it!

  3. I haven't read it but I did enjoy the movie of 84 Charing Cross Road.

  4. stephanie - thanks, it is really cute

    geraniumcat - thanks, I will have to look for the movie

    3M - It's very quick to read, pretty much one sitting, and very adorable. Nice view of life in England post-war.

  5. Yay, I loved it, too! :) I've asked my library to order the DVD -I'm looking forward to seeing it.

    You're right about how it's hard to fathom not just going to visit them. I find it so sad that she never got a chance to meet them.

  6. tll - it's hard to remember how much air travel has changed, even in the last 20 years. It would have been a trip of a lifetime. I didn't even realize it was nonfiction until the end. It was so perfectly written, I thought it was made up.

  7. I reviewed this book yesterday:

    If you haven't seen the film, be sure to rent it ASAP. Its amazing. And Hopkins and Bancroft are wonderfully cast.


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