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84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
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84, Charing Cross Road (original 1970; edition 1990)

by Helene Hanff

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,4512131,557 (4.25)811
Member:pnorman4345
Title:84, Charing Cross Road
Authors:Helene Hanff
Info:Penguin Books (1990), Paperback, 112 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

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

Recently added byangelista, anneastrid, nittnut, Gorthalon, Inguling, What_Katie_Read, private library, patrice535, Marbot
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» See also 811 mentions

English (186)  Spanish (9)  French (6)  Catalan (5)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (212)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
Originally reviewed at The Book Owls

The very slim volume of 84, Charing Cross Road has been sitting on my bookshelves for two years, ever since a lovely book friend gave me her copy when she was moving and told me all book lovers should read it. The book sits on my shelf at eye level, and has been calling my name ever since. “Look at me!” it called. “I’m very short. I’m charming. I’m a book for book lovers.”

I finally picked up 84, Charing Cross Road last week, and it was wonderful. It is a collection of letters exchanged over twenty years between Helene Hanff, a script writer living in New York city, and Frank Doel, a bookseller at a used bookstore in London (located at 84, Charing Cross Road). Helene, who has a specific taste in books, is witty and sarcastic and overdramatic at times. Her outlandish letters are a stark contrast to Frank’s responses: formal, polite, and reserved.

The two start off corresponding after Hanff begins ordering books from the store. However, hearing about the food shortages and rations in post-WWI UK, Helene begins sending the bookstore baskets of gifts, including many hard-to-find items. A friendship slowly grows between Helene and Frank, conducted solely through letters. It’s understated and real and heart-warming. ( )
  knsievert | Nov 25, 2014 |
Originally reviewed at The Book Owls

The very slim volume of 84, Charing Cross Road has been sitting on my bookshelves for two years, ever since a lovely book friend gave me her copy when she was moving and told me all book lovers should read it. The book sits on my shelf at eye level, and has been calling my name ever since. “Look at me!” it called. “I’m very short. I’m charming. I’m a book for book lovers.”

I finally picked up 84, Charing Cross Road last week, and it was wonderful. It is a collection of letters exchanged over twenty years between Helene Hanff, a script writer living in New York city, and Frank Doel, a bookseller at a used bookstore in London (located at 84, Charing Cross Road). Helene, who has a specific taste in books, is witty and sarcastic and overdramatic at times. Her outlandish letters are a stark contrast to Frank’s responses: formal, polite, and reserved.

The two start off corresponding after Hanff begins ordering books from the store. However, hearing about the food shortages and rations in post-WWI UK, Helene begins sending the bookstore baskets of gifts, including many hard-to-find items. A friendship slowly grows between Helene and Frank, conducted solely through letters. It’s understated and real and heart-warming. ( )
  knsievert | Nov 25, 2014 |
Read during Summer 2006

I think it took perhaps 45 minutes to read the collection of letters from Hanff and her bookstore friends but I kept seeing the movie as I read and the movie was longer than that. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much without seeing the film, Bancroft and Hopkins brought so much life and dimension to the roles. Not knowing most of the non-ficton Hanff cares to read also made it a bit tough to follow.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
I wanted to read a happy book after finishing Room and The Lovely Bones back to back (great reads but depressing). Found this book from librarything recommendations, and oh, how this bunch of letters delighted me. I was laughing all along, taking notes of Hanff’s favourite books so that I could also get my hands on them, and happy that the world is not just full of rapists and murderers. Towards the end, I broke down completely, not only because what happens in the *end* but also because the book was over. Easily one of my favourites. ( )
  ananthalakshmi | Jul 5, 2014 |
I am so glad this was recommended to me. What an absolutely lovely collection of letters.

I had no idea what this was about when I started reading it. I did not know that it was an actual series of correspondence (or, portions of it) between two actual people in an actual life.

Helene Hanff, a write in New York, begins her correspondence to the bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road in London in 1949, seeking a better set and quality of books than what she has been able to find locally.

Frank Doel takes on the task of fulfilling Helene's requests and corresponding with her.

What develops, however, is a real 20-year friendship between not only Frank and Helene, but several other bookstore employees and their family members.

It is at times funny, at times moving, and always just lovely. I loved this book. I highly recommend to anyone who loves books!

FIVE of five stars.

**Note: I was so eager to see the movie (made in the late 70s) after reading this book.... Ultimately, it was also lovely, but it took more than half the movie for me to adjust my expectations of who the characters were... In my mind, there was more of a playfulness to the people than the movie portrayed. Although I don't recommend against the movie, perhaps following up with the movie right after finishing the book wasn't my best move... ( )
  avanders | Jun 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (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

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hanff, HeleneAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doel, Frankmain authorall 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:20 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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