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84, Charing Cross Road Paperback – October 1, 1990
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84, Charing Cross Road is a charming record of bibliophilia, cultural difference, and imaginative sympathy. For 20 years, an outspoken New York writer and a rather more restrained London bookseller carried on an increasingly touching correspondence. In her first letter to Marks & Co., Helene Hanff encloses a wish list, but warns, "The phrase 'antiquarian booksellers' scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive." Twenty days later, on October 25, 1949, a correspondent identified only as FPD let Hanff know that works by Hazlitt and Robert Louis Stevenson would be coming under separate cover. When they arrive, Hanff is ecstatic--but unsure she'll ever conquer "bilingual arithmetic." By early December 1949, Hanff is suddenly worried that the six-pound ham she's sent off to augment British rations will arrive in a kosher office. But only when FPD turns out to have an actual name, Frank Doel, does the real fun begin.
Two years later, Hanff is outraged that Marks & Co. has dared to send an abridged Pepys diary. "i enclose two limp singles, i will make do with this thing till you find me a real Pepys. THEN i will rip up this ersatz book, page by page, AND WRAP THINGS IN IT." Nonetheless, her postscript asks whether they want fresh or powdered eggs for Christmas. Soon they're sharing news of Frank's family and Hanff's career. No doubt their letters would have continued, but in 1969, the firm's secretary informed her that Frank Doel had died. In the collection's penultimate entry, Helene Hanff urges a tourist friend, "If you happen to pass by 84, Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me. I owe it so much."
A real-life love story . . . A timeless period piece. Do read it * WALL STREET JOURNAL * Unmitigated delight from cover to cover * DAILY TELEGRAPH * A must for anyone who reads - the correspondence between book lover Helen Hanff and Messers Marks & Cross of Charing Cross Road has been reissued. * Daily Express * A lovely new edition of this classic title * Good Book Guide * --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It is nothing less than a delight to eavesdrop on the dialogue between Ms. Hanff and her London bookseller, mostly represented by Frank Doel but with other staff members joining in along the way. It begins with her first letter to the bookseller in October of 1949 and continues until October of 1969. Along the way there are insights to be gleaned regarding the state of life in London during the post-war years and thereafter, as well as in New York City. But the chief attraction of this book is the personalities of the writer and her correspondents across the pond.
Too short, this can be easily read in a single sitting. Unforgettable.
Their correspondence, along with several other employees of the shop and extended family of employees covers more than two decades and begins with post-war rationing still in place and ends with screaming fans of the Beatles and the rise of Carnaby street - quite a progression in the England of the twentiety century. These letters are full of life and humor and every human emotion. The book reads quickly, but that is all right because as soon as the last page is turned, eager readers will begin again looking for favorite passages. Highly recommended to all sorts of readers but especially those who love English books and England.