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84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
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84, Charing Cross Road (1970)

by Helene Hanff, Frank Doel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: 84, Charing Cross Road (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,0872551,238 (4.24)1 / 891
  1. 196
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (khuggard, DetailMuse, helgagrace, ehough75, kraaivrouw)
    khuggard: Another tale about book lovers who come together through letters, with the same, post-war England setting.
    kraaivrouw: Another book about people who connect via their love of books and reading.
  2. 70
    The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff (Booksloth)
  3. 40
    The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (BasilBlue)
  4. 40
    The private papers of a bankrupt bookseller by William Young Darling (BasilBlue)
    BasilBlue: Fascinating peek at the nature of book sellers and book buyers in the early 20th century.
  5. 41
    Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: "Q" is Arthur Quiller-Couch, whose book On the Art of Writing led Ms. Hanff to what would become many of her favorite books and writers.
  6. 74
    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (withwill, teelgee)
  7. 30
    The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (Booksloth)
  8. 10
    Bibliophilia by N. John Hall (sneuper)
    sneuper: Like Bibliophilia, 84 Charing Cross Road is a correspondence between a collecter and an antiquarian bookseller.
  9. 21
    An Alphabetical Life: Living It Up in the World of Books by Wendy Werris (sfelber)
    sfelber: Another book about books-this time the book selling business. A fascinating read. This memoir by Wendy Werris details her life from working in a San Francisco book store as a kid to becoming an independent book rep. A true behind-the-scene view for bibliophiles.… (more)
  10. 11
    At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman (Booksloth)
  11. 00
    The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story by Theodora Goss (MyriadBooks)
  12. 12
    Book Traveller by Bruce Bliven (trav)
  13. 01
    Twice Born by Margaret Mazzantini (remeig)
  14. 01
    Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor (bnbookgirl, bnbookgirl)
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English (226)  Spanish (10)  Catalan (6)  French (6)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All (254)
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
There's not as much to it as I'd expected. Helen Hanff writes charming letters with fun doses of humour, and her correspondent responds professionally at first and then with more warmth as the relationship develops. Some additional related letters augment the developing story, but others are also obviously missing and there's many jumps forward in time. There's some fine insights here into post-war Britain, and a reminder of the victories that book hounds would take in accomplishing difficult aquisitions when they didn't have the Internet at their fingertips. I blinked a few times at the wonders of inflation as 1950s book prices were being quoted.

In our Internet world the epistolary format is familiar to all and describes most of what we write through email, texting, Facebook, etc. Virtually everyone today is accustomed to corresponding with multiple others over distances in this fashion. This book has consequently lost some of its glamour, exchanged for the contrast it offers with the world I know. For one, this is a relationship that arose from the 1940s equivalent of online shopping: try doing that with Amazon or AbeBooks and see what you're missing. We've traded for efficiency and lost something in the bargain. For another, I can marvel at how rapidly things develop in how few letters and forget the timeframe they are collected over. With my current ability to produce this much correspondence in a week or less, I'm spoiled into thinking that writing volumes is necessary in order even to begin knowing anyone. Less really can be more, or at least just as much, when writing with this kind of heart and sincerity and making the right gestures. ( )
  Cecrow | Jul 13, 2017 |
Not nearly long enough. ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | Jul 3, 2017 |
A heartwarming story of a relationship that developed over the years between a book-buyer from the U.S. and a bookshop in England's Charing Cross Road that sells antiquated books. The story is expressed through correspondence that grows more spaced out over the years. Hanff's letters dripped with humour and character while the letters from Frank of the bookshop slowly become less reserved. You learn kindness and generosity from Hanff, she is not exactly well-to-do but she buys Easter and Christmas food hampers every year for the staff at Charing Cross upon learning they had to live with food rations. What is also interesting is that Hanff acknowledged in a letter to her friend that while she is loud in her letters to the bookshop staff, she doesn't know if she will be so when she sees them in person. She might just walk into the shop and walk out without acknowledging them. How true this is of how humans are. ( )
  siok | Jun 26, 2017 |
Not nearly long enough. ( )
  TracyRowanAuthor | Jun 20, 2017 |
84 Charing Cross Road really is a delightful little book. It simply contains correspondence over a 20 year period from 1949 between (initially) struggling screenwriter Helene Hanff in NYC and the employees of Marks & Co Antiquarian Bookshop, located at the titular address in London.


Initially starting with a query for books that are unavailable - or only so as expensive but cheap-looking modern editions - bibliophile Hanff is soon enraptured by the riches available and the correspondence becomes regular. The informal, funny, often acerbic style of her letters contrasts nicely with the proper, rather staid, formality of the replies. Even as the relationships progresses to friendliness - and to true friendship, perhaps - there is a quality of propriety to the letters from England. Having seen the film before reading the book, I read the letters from Hanff in the voice Anne Bancroft and those of Frank Doel, the main correspondent from Marks’, as Anthony Hopkins. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of what may be the most unlikely New York Times bestseller ever: Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road. ...84 Charing Cross Road is a perfect example of why you can't judge a book by its cover, its length, or the unorthodox nature of its content. Ultimately what makes the book work is what makes any book work, whether fiction or nonfiction: the relationships between the characters....84 Charing Cross Road is at its core a book about lovers of books, and is at the same time one of the funniest and most touching books you'll ever read
 

» Add other authors (60 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hanff, Heleneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doel, Frankmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Anne BancroftIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gómez i Casademont, PuriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kooten, Barbara vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Premoli, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
F.P.D. In Memoriam
First words
Gentlemen: Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books.
Quotations
My friends are peculiar about books. They read all the best sellers, they get through them as fast as possible, I think they skip a lot. And they NEVER read anything a second time so they don't remember a word of it a year later. But they are profoundly shocked to see me drop a book in the wastebasket or give it away. The way they look at it, you buy a book, you read it, you put it on the shelf, you never open it again for the rest of your life but YOU DON'T THROW IT OUT! NOT IF IT HAS A HARD COVER ON IT! Why not? I personally can't think of anything less sacrosanct than a bad book or even a mediocre book. [54]
I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to "I hate to read new books," and I hollered "Comrade!" to whoever owned it before me. [7]
It [the Book Lover's Anthology] 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. [56]
Have you got De Tocqueville's Journey to America?  Somebody borrowed mine and never gave it back.  Why is it that people who wouldn't dream of stealing anything else think it's perfectly all right to steal books? [61]
A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with preconceived notions, so they always find exactly what they go looking for.  I told him I'd go looking for the England of English literature, and he said:
"Then it's there." [13]
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work - Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road (unabridged).  Please do not combine with omnibus/combined editions, anthologies or abridged editions.

The UK edition titled 84 Charing Cross Road, ISBN 0860074382, 1844085244 and 1860498507, is actually an omnibus edition of this title and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.  Works identified as this omnibus should NOT be combined with this work, 84 Charing Cross Road.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase 'antiquarian book-sellers' scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions, or in Barnes and Noble's grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies.

So begins the delightfully reticent love affair between Miss Helene Hanff of New York and Messrs Marks and Co, sellers of rare and secondhand books, at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. For twenty years this outspoken New York writer and Frank Doel, a rather more restrained London bookseller, carry on an increasingly touching correspondence to the point where, in early December, 1949, Helene is suddenly worried that the six-pound ham she's sent off to augment British rations will arrive in a kosher office.
Soon they are sharing more personal news about Frank's family and Hanff's career. No doubt their letters would have continued, but in 1969 the firm's secretary informed Helene 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.'
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140143505, 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

What started as a request for an out-of-print book evolved into a 20-year friendship between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York, and Frank Doel, a used-book dealer in London.

» see all 4 descriptions

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