Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Review: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Roadis a delightful collection of letters from Helene Hanff, a New York City screenplay writer and several members of the Marks & Co. Booksellers located in London. Particularly Mr. Frank Doel, who fulfills the book wishes of the humorous Ms. Hanff. She in turn provides the war impoverished booksellers with items hard to get during the rationing in London. What follows is a unique friendship that crosses continents and spans twenty years.

84, Charing Cross Road

Things I Liked:
Everything. Everything about this book was fabulous. I loved Helene Hanff humor - if I could write anything half as witty as her letters, I would have my career as a writer made. I especially loved the contrast in character between the sarcastic Helene and the straight-laced Frank. One of the best books I've read in a long time.

Things I Didn't Like:
It was much too short. I felt like there were lots of letters missing (probably they were lost over time, unfortunately). I have got to find anything else Ms. Hanff has written. Ever. Quickly.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (for the epistolary feel)
Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (for the humor)

And because you may need a tiny bit more convincing even after my glowing report, here are some excellent quotes from the book:
"Frank Doel, what are you DOING over there, you are not doing ANYthing, you are just sitting AROUND...you leave me sitting here writing long margin notes in library books that don't belong to me, someday they'll find out i did it and take my library card away." p.10
"The Book-Lovers' Anthology stepped out of its wrappings, all gold-embossed leather and gold-tipped pages, easily the most beautiful book I own including the Newman first edition. It looks too new and pristine ever to have been read by anyone else, but it has been: it keeps falling open at the most delightful places as the ghost of its former owner points me to things I've never read before." p.56
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating:*****


  1. I will definitely add this to my TBR list after reading your glowing review. Sounds like something I would really enjoy.

  2. Kim, I can't recommend it highly enough. So. Much. Fun.

  3. Hi, is there an e-book? I can't find where I could read it :(

  4. Anon, I couldn't find an e-book version of this book. Probably hasn't been digitized as of now. Did you check your local library?


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