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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 ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9862491,283 (4.25)1 / 884
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 (1970)

  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
    Venuto al mondo by Margaret Mazzantini (remeig)
  14. 01
    Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor (bnbookgirl, bnbookgirl)
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English (220)  Spanish (10)  Catalan (7)  French (6)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All (249)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
I can't recall when I first discovered 84, Charing Cross Road. I suspect I came across it reading a book about bookstores post. I'm a sucker for those. For many, bookstores are a magical place. It's a place where we can often find people who are as enthusiastic about the love of the written word as we are. It's as if we finally find our home away from home among the stacks.

In 84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff finds kindred spirits in a bookshop across the ocean. October 5, 1949, Helene writes her first letter to Marks & Co., a second-hand bookshop in London that specializes in out-of-print books, to inquire after a list of books she can't seem to get a hold of. The bookshop manages to procure most of the list for her and assure her they'll be on the lookout for the rest. It was this exchange that started a twenty-year correspondence between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, an employee of Marks & Co.

Helene and Frank's letters start out very formal, but through time, the pretenses come down. Their letters become friendly, and before long, she's exchanging letters not only with the other staff, but also with their families. Although this book is slim, at less than a hundred pages, it's full of heart. 84, Charing Cross Road, is the book Helene Hanff is most remembered for and it's not hard to see why.
Read more at http://www.toreadornottoread.net/2017/04/review-84-charing-cross-road.html#hF2gL... ( )
  mt256 | May 2, 2017 |
because London.
  phoibee | Apr 23, 2017 |
This short memoir has been on my tbr list for a while. I was so happy to finally have a chance to read it, even though the paperback version more resembled a pamphlet instead of a book. Thankfully it didn't disappoint.

I loved the idea of ongoing correspondence between a customer and bookshop staff during a bygone era, that eventually evolved into a more personal type of communication. However, I couldn't help but wonder what Frank Doel thought of that first letter? The humor used by the author (Hanff) in her letters sometimes came off as caustic or complaining, but eventually her overall character won me over.

My only minor quibble was that the new paperback copy I bought, which was the only affordable version I could find still in print, wasn't very aesthetically pleasing. Ms. Hanff made it clear that she sought out pretty books with embossed leather covers and gold tipped pages, however her own published book likely isn't one that will end up being displayed prominently on the reader's bookshelf. In all fairness, I haven't viewed a copy of the originally published hardbound version from 1970. Maybe the hardbound version is better, although the used copies in very good condition are pricey. ( )
  Lisa805 | Mar 21, 2017 |
This was a lovely read, quick and enjoyable. 84, Charing Cross Road is the story of Helen Hanff and Frank Doel. Shes a struggling playwright and he's head buyer of Marks & Co an antiquarian bookstore. While the story is told through letters with brief glimpses into the lives Helen, Frank and others who flash in and out of their story; the beauty of this book for me was the story that wasn't given words. When Helen received her first book, that oh so wonderful used book, with a history and story outside of the story within the covers making it that much more special. Or the pleasure dried eggs (and believe me when I say dried eggs are not a pleasure!) and canned meat could bring to families who were still trying to recover from the war. And I pictured Helen herself, alone who had friends but never talked about anyone special. Nor did she talk about how hard she must have had to work to live in New York in what was still very much a man's world.

The joy that these people had because of books and isn't that truly what this book is about? Sharing a love of the written word? Doesn't that make us all have richer more meaningful lives?

I would recommend that you read this after reading about what it was like for the people of Britain after the War. I would also recommend that you read about what it was like for women when all the men were coming home from the war. ( )
  mmoj | Mar 2, 2017 |
A delightful read! This small book will be a treasure to anyone who loves books and understands the need to own books. Helene Hanff has a wonderful since of humor and I can say I laughed out loud several times. Thank you Mo for referring to this book somewhere along the way. It was the perfect thing to read while recuperating from a small surgical procedure. ( )
  theeccentriclady | Feb 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (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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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]
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(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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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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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