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84 Charing Cross Road; The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (original 1976; edition 1982)

by Helene Hanff

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7373112,660 (4.3)16
Member:syrin
Title:84 Charing Cross Road; The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street
Authors:Helene Hanff
Info:Time Warner Paperbacks (1982), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:American Literature, Bought: London, Mail, Non-Fiction, Private Collection, Time Warner

Work details

84, Charing Cross Road with The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff (1976)

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» See also 16 mentions

English (29)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I loved the movie and I loved the book. But I cried cried cried at the end of it. Penpals are almost a mythical thing these days. I think time has really added to the story here. I just love the idea of two total strangers becoming close, almost intimate, friends though simply writing letters to one another. This is a book that I will read again and again. ( )
  sscarllet | Jul 1, 2014 |
The novel itself deserves a ten out of five stars, but the epilogue about Hanff's trip to London gets a bit boring from time to time. However, still worth reading! Excellent, moving novel, makes you want to hug the book after reading. ( )
  Sanja_Sanjalica | Mar 14, 2014 |
84 Charing Cross Road tag: General non-fiction, letters

Helen Hanff is a freelance writer, who is also a bibliophile. She found an advertisement in the Saturday Review of Literature about an antiquarian book-sellers, based in England on 84 Charing Cross Road. She writes to them with a list of her most pressing problems because finding affordable books of this quality in America was at the time near impossible.

This is the beginning of a wonderful correspondence between her and the staff of Charing Cross Road, spanning 20 years. This one is witty, sassy, profoundly human and above all a must-read for all book lovers out there.

Highly Recommended

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street tag: General non-fiction, travel writing

This is an account of Helen Hanff travel’s to England, following the publication of 84 Charing Cross Road. She relates her feeling and impression of London, after having dream and read about the city for decades. She talks too about the people who absolutelty wanted to meet her during her stay, thanks to the book. This one is not as engaging as 84 Charing Cross Road but her wittiness is still transpriring. ( )
  electrice | Feb 21, 2014 |
I read an edition of this that only included 84, Charing Cross Road, and not The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. This book is a memoir of sorts, consisting of letters between the author, Helene Hanff, and an employee, Frank Doel, of a second-hand bookstore in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Over a 20-year period starting in 1949, Helene corresponds with Frank, Frank's wife, and other employees of the bookstore, purchasing books from them and exchanging gifts.

I love used bookstores and used books and so was delighted by that aspect of the book. I also love letters and the way in which correspondence by mail used to take place. In our busy instant response time of internet and email, it is difficult to imagine the weeks that could pass between letters and the years that could pass between Helene requesting a title and the bookstore finally acquiring a copy for her. I sometimes wonder if we have lost the patience that was necessary in that era?

However, I didn't enjoy the book quite as much as I expected. I think one thing that frustrated me was that I am not familiar with most of the books that Helene read (older things, classic, such as poetry by John Donne), so it was difficult for me to relate to what she was experiencing. The other thing I found frustrating was the sparsity of the letters, especially in the later years. There were clearly more letters exchanged than are present in the book, because sometimes a letter included referred to one that wasn't present. This was a little annoying, as I felt like we were only getting snippets rather than the whole story in depth. Perhaps they felt that more letters would start to get boring or repetitive, but I think they could have included at least a little bit more than one or fewer per year.

So overall, while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it.
( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hanff, Heleneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Skogsberg, BeritTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Gentlemen:
Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books.
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Disambiguation notice
The UK edition titled 84 Charing Cross Road, ISBN 0860074382 and 1860498507, is actually an omnibus edition of 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. It is therefore correctly combined with this work, and should not be combined with the shorter single work 84 Charing Cross Road.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0860074382, Paperback)

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."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:48 -0400)

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