84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140143508
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/1990
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 36,104
Product dimensions: 5.05(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.28(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Helene Hanff (1915–1997) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the 1940s and ’50s she wrote plays and television scripts in New York City, but found little success until her best-known book, 84, Charing Cross Road, was published in 1970. The book was a smash hit and has been adapted for the radio, stage, film, and television.

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84 Charing Cross Road 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 89 reviews.
jtchun3 More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I reread it at least yearly and it never fails to touch me in so many ways. i laugh and I cry and who could ask for more from an old friend?
Brockeim More than 1 year ago
In these days of e-books, and bland books constructed from franchised ideas and formulas, we are presented "84, Charing Cross Road," a story about a relationship begun because of a mutual love of old great books. Frank Doel owns the English bookstore, and Helene Hanff mails him a request for a book. Correspondence and a relationship begins. Contently and confidently married, Doel responds as an older brother might, and the two grow to cherish each other despite the distance. As they care for each other, and slowly, their local friends and family become aware, we see how love transcends the sea. Neither character has an agenda, and this left me feeling a little less cynical about the world around me. Like Nick Bantock's "Griffin and Sabine," it carries a romantic mystery and intrigue. We read the correspondence and imagine. Like so many of today's e-mail- and chatroom-only friendships, they learn to appreciate each other, though knowing only the other as they choose to describe themselves. This isn't a story about books or bookstores, despite the honest representation of their demeanor and personality. Any booklover knows the search for a book, and the texture of a bookseller's knowledge and connection with his books. This is a book about the depth, trust, and love of one unexpected relationship. Book lovers will enjoy the context, and good friends will smile knowingly. The movie with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft is likewise worth viewing, carrying the letters into a emotional zone of charm and delight. --Brockeim
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
84, Charing Cross Road is the address of a London bookseller. The New York author, Helen Hanff, purchased numerous hard to find books from this shop shortly after WWII and the correspondence between her and the bookseller reveals the value of friendships developed through their letterwriting. Ms. Hanff writes of her career as an author and TV writer, as well as her humble generosity in helping out a particular group of people she doesn't even know. Charmingly intimate in tone and style, the letters cover many decades. It was with considerable nostagia that I read this book. For anyone person wanting to capture the flavor and the culture of a by-gone-era this is a great example of post WWII British/American relationships.
FrancescaFB 5 months ago
elliepotten on LibraryThing 10 months ago
My copy of this book included both '84, Charing Cross Road' and 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.' In terms of the former, I am definitely drawn to books that are witty, charming, and full of, well, books - so this, er, book, a compilation of letters between two witty, charming people brought together by, yes, books, fits the bill perfectly! Helene Hanff wrote to the Marks & Co. bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road for twenty years, acquiring all kinds of books from them without ever leaving her typewriter. In doing so she broke down the reserve of Frank Doel, her chief correspondent and buyer at the bookshop, and formed friendships with everyone from his wife to his colleagues to his elderly neighbour. Her generosity and wit charmed her English friends just as they charm readers still. Although the book is short, it is just delicious to read, putting a happy smile on the reader's face on every page. It evokes nostalgia for the 'good old days' of bookselling, and I could almost smell the dusty pages as Helene opened each new package, freshly arrived from England. I just wish there were more letters remaining from those years to make for a longer book! Now to 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street'. Unfortunately, this one didn't blow me away. Sadly Frank Doel died, putting an end to the pair's refreshing correspondence. After years of promising herself she'd get there, 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street' sees Hanff finally making her pilgrimage to London. Suddenly in demand after the publication of '84, Charing Cross Road', Hanff's opportunity arises when a British publisher decides to take up the book and asks her to visit London to do some publicity work for the launch. This sequel is her diary of her weeks in England, seeing the sights, visiting the closed-down store she had written to for so long, and, perhaps most importantly, meeting Frank's widow Nora and daughter Sheila at last.Perhaps because her letters are so pithy and giggle-inducingly funny, her lengthier prose disappointed me a little - though her astute observations and ready humour were still in evidence. It was interesting seeing the London of the Seventies through the eyes of an American visitor, particularly since Hanff had romanticised the city for so long, but it definitely fell a bit flat for me. Perhaps because I'm too young to remember the times, perhaps because I'm not an American looking in at English life, perhaps because I've only been to London a couple of times and barely know it at all, perhaps because the bookish world of '84, Charing Cross Road' was something I understood so inherently... whatever the reason, it wasn't a patch on its predecessor. I'll be keeping it because both books are contained within the one volume, but I'm glad I didn't buy it separately expecting more of the same sparkle.I gave the first section 5 stars, the second 3, hence my overall verdict of 4 stars. Now I'm looking forward to watching the movie, which I hear is wonderful and which I am fervently hoping will become a firm favourite!
Luli81 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This edition contains Hanff's letters to Mark and Co sellers and its sequel "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street". Both books are unusual and delicate treasures for book lovers. The first book contains the letters Miss Hanff wrote to Mark and Co second hand bookshop, and specially, to Frank, one of the sellers there, for more than 20 years. Through the letters we are offered a real glimpse of what would have been like a post war life in Britain and also the attitude of American and British people regarding the historical moments they were living.Helene letters were fresh, witty and they lacked the correct demeanour that her British correspondents required, a fact that gets more and more obvious as the years pass by. She finally breaks though the inflexible English composure and a real friendship emerges from her initial business letters.The second part is an account of Hanff's stay in London where she is finally able to travel to England and see with her own eyes everything she has read about the country and its great writers, always with smart and funny remarks and that dry sense of humour of her, also present in her letters.What can I say? I finished the book in one sitting and I felt I wanted more of that letters...it's easy to get carried away and read between those lines. You have to feel something special to maintain such correspondence with a complete stranger, someone you've never met. The fact that these letters were real makes the story even more compelling and, for once, we have proof that something magic can come out of our everyday lives, we just have to be aware of the little miracles happening all around us.Some quotations from the book:""Anachronism" implies something long dead, and nothing is dead here. History, as they say, is alive and well and living in London.""I am so tired of being told what a terrible place New York is to live in by people who don't live there.""...Shaw once observed, we are two countries divided by a common language."" In London you shoo them away by talking to them. In New York talking to them would just get you their life stories."
Fluffyblue on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Excellent book (this particular one contained two books - 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street). Highly intelligent, very witty (in a dry way if you like that kind of thing), but very warm. Helene Hanff comes across as a wonderfully amusing person.
queen_evie on LibraryThing 10 months ago
84, Charing Cross Road is a collection of letters between Helene Hanff, a struggling American writer living in New York, and Marks & Co. bookshop in London - a correspondence which spanned two decades without either party meeting the other. What starts out as a regular request for specific books from an anglophile who is looking for any way to forge a connection with London becomes a touching exchange involving family, generous donations and real friendship. It was a really delightful read, and the edition I picked up had another 'book' included: The Duchess of Bloomsbury - which is a transcribe of Hanff's diary from when she finally did come to London, for the first time, on her book tour for 84, Charing Cross Road's release. She was completely taken with everything and everyone, and shown a fantastic time by friends, acquaintances and fans alike. It really rounded the whole thing off - I don't know if I could've read just the letters without the wonderful catharsis of the journal. Although Hanff is not the kind of character I would normally take to, she has much charm that shows fluorescently in her writing, as do the characters in and around Marks & Co. in London. This book really made me crave a sense of the glamorous London of old, the really English London you read about in old books or see in old movies. I suppose it might still exist here and there, but for the most part these days I see a modern, cosmopolitan and multicultural and tourist-friendly city - which is also fantastic, and I suppose that is the new character of modern London. But books like this make me nostalgic (can you feel nostalgia for something you never experienced?) for London even just 30 years ago. Anyway.Read it. It's quick and very touching, sweet and informative. It has nestled into a special place in my heart, this one. I'm going to buy a copy.
ardeahp on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Helen, witty, acerbic and kind stumbles across a bookshop in England where she can buy coveted volumes for low, low prices by post. She also stumbles across a friendship with the reserved Frank whose letters slowly warm (a little) to her humour and openness. 84 Charing Cross Road gives us a glimpse of life in post-war (WWII) England and USA while reminding us that human connections are the important things in life, although books rate pretty high too.
richardderus on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A book to love and treasure forever, a book about books and the people who love them more than anything else. Also a book about epistolary friendships that sets the bar for anyone else anywhere ever to jump over.
JaneAustenNut on LibraryThing 10 months ago
84, Charing Cross Road was great light reading. I thoroughly enjoyed each letter and the idea they transpired over two decades was endearing. I first became an admirer of 84 Charing Cross when I saw the movie over netflix on the internet. Anne Bancroft was great as Helene Hanff. She also. wrote a good introduction to this edition.
Lorelai2 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
One of my favorite books of all time: the letters of Helene Hanff to Frank Doel and the other charming book folk of that small book shop(that sadly no longer exists in London)are such a delight.Helene's quest for knowledge was truly inspiring and my only regret upon reading this book(and several of her others)is that I never got the chance to meet and speak with this lively,witty woman.
sanddancer on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This had long been a favourite film and I'd spent a long time trying to get hold of a copy of the book. It is the story of a forthright American writer in New York who orders books from a book shop in London and begins a charming correspondence with the shop manager. Through their letters we see a friendship develop but also get a glimpse of society in the post-war years. Where it differs from the film is that the book is more about a friendship and a shared love of literature than the unfulfilled romance that the film portrays.
Oreillynsf on LibraryThing 10 months ago
If there was ever proof that words can connect people, this book is it. The story is excellent, the history so human, but it's the words in these letters that really make this book special. Words turn a set of business transactions into the most wonderfully human of stories.
PensiveCat on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Correspondence between a scriptreader/writer and a bookseller, covering twenty years. It is a love story, but really the love is for books. Excellent for Bibliophiles and Anglophiles.
shelley582 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
One of my favorite books - I reread this on a regular basis. The tone of the letters is wonderful and they always inspire me to read one of the books listed.
mphchicago on LibraryThing 10 months ago
One of my favorite books. A must read for booklovers. A small story told in letters between "small" people that reveals the great kindnesses and compassion we can show to others in small everyday acts and encounters that can mean so much. Funny, touching and unforgetable.
ValerieAndBooks on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Probably appropriately enough, I found this as an used book.This was a quick read but a thought-provoking one. Spanning 20 years, this volume consists of a series of letters written between by the American Helene Hanff and the employees (manily one Frank Doel) of a secondhand book store in London. It shows how different the post-WWII era was regarding books -- no logging in online to find a specific book. It also shows how close people can get, by mere correspondence and is bittersweet -- Helene constantly says she will visit England but always puts it off. I just learned that there is a sequel to this volume (The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street), which I definitely will look for.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The year is 1949. Helene Hanff is a Jewish writer who prefers to mail order books from Marks And Company, Booksellers, a small book shop in London, England instead of frequenting a bookstore just blocks away from her one room apartment in New York City. She doesn't explain how she came to find this particular shop nor what first prompted her to write to them specifically, but what follows is a series of letters written between Ms. Hanff and different employees of the shop, the most notable recipient being Mr. Frank Doel. In her letters Ms. Hanff comes across as a sassy, brash, and sometimes demanding American while Mr. Doel's British replies are decidedly courteous if not stuffy (otherwise known as prim and proper). Over time Hanff wins Doel over with her sarcastic wit and he "loosens up" little by little. So begins a 20 year love affair between book lovers. Hanff also writes others in the shop as well as their families. She generously sends post-war gifts of food and clothing (items rationed at that time) that win over the entire shop. While the book is short (just 84 pages long or two hours of audio) you are drawn into Hanff's relationship with the employees of the book shop. You end up hoping she takes that trip across the pond to meet them.
Sean191 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book is just a collection of letters between a struggling writer in NYC and her bookstore of choice in England. Actually, saying it's "just" a collection of letters is an understatement. Even though it clocks in at just under 100 pages total and probably less than an hour of reading, it's filled with warmth and humor and a snapshot of history thrown in for good measure. The book has been sitting on my shelf for some time and I had actually even considered throwing it into the pile of books I meant to sell without ever reading - I'm glad I didn't and now, it's not going anywhere even AFTER having read it. I highly recommend this for a light read, although it might also leave the more sensitive reader a little misty-eyed.
jmaloney17 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
All I have to say is lovely.
anneofia on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This is the story of an American bibliophile who wrote to a bookstore in London aski ng for some out-of-print books that she couldn't get "cheap" at home. This starts a correspondence that is to last for nearly 20 years. It was a wonderful book - one of the best I've read -- I'm only sorry it was so short (97 pages). It made me laugh and cry and really bond with the letter writers. My copy of the book also contains the sequel, "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street." It was equally good, and both books stand alone very nicely.
mickmckeown on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Take an hour out of your day and read this book. It is one of the touching works of a by gone era. In a time before Facebook, Myspace and even email you can enter the world of Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. She is a struggling New York writer and he is a London Bookseller. The long distance correspondence between these two is timeless. It is a true friendship that began with a book. The letters and love bring you back to Britain and Broadway of the late 1940s to the end of the 1960s. I highly reccommend this time capsule of a book.
knitcrazybooknut on LibraryThing 11 months ago
One of the best stories about being a Book Person that I have ever read. Belongs with Ruined by Reading and Ex Libris on your bookshelf.
Ambrosia4 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The one word I can succinctly use to describe this book is: "charming". This word is trite and overused for such an uncommonly sweet, funny, and at times sad book, but there is no better word for it, I must say.I have always loved correspondence books, or other such uncommon book styles, but what made this even funnier or sadder was the knowledge the entire reading that it was real. Helene actually sat down in 1952 and wrote that letter and Nora sat down and wrote back.It ends so abruptly that, like Helene probably felt, the reader is left bereft of the companionship that the book had provided for the last 90 or so pages. While this may seem like a very short time to become so enamoured of a book, I'd like to see you try and read it without becoming so enraptured of these people (that you can't just call realistic, because they are in fact real) that at the end you are sad. In an hour you book so wholly immersed that you forget that this all happened between 40 and 70 years ago.Yes, I did cry a bit at the end. Don't laugh. It's only a natural response. And of course, more than that, I laughed aloud throughout the entire rest of the book. And I must say, I would love to receive correspondence from Helene Hanff!