Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

by Helene Hanff


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A zesty memoir of the celebrated writer's travels to England where she meets the cherished friends from 84, Charing Cross Road.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781559211444
Publisher: Moyer Bell
Publication date: 01/01/1995
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.49(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.34(d)

About the Author

Helene Hanff is the author of APPLE OF MY EYE, THE DUCHESS OF BLOOMSBURY STREET, LETTER FROM NEW YORK, Q'S LEGACY and UNDERFOOT IN SHOW BUSINESS. She wrote a number of books for young readers the best known being MOVERS AND SHAKERS and TERRIBLE THOMAS. Born in Philadelphia, Helene lived most of her life in New York City.

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Duchess of Bloomsbury Street 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I adore Hanff's works and am so sad there is so little of it. Since she is no longer living, there will be no more. This book is delightful because she finally gets to travel to her beloved England, and meet people she has only known through the written word for years. I loved this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
while i admit that this book is not as good as 84 charing; it is becuase 84 was never, when the words were written, ment to be a published work. 84 was a series of personal/buisness corespondances that stretched over several decades. The duchess, was Hanff's in the moment writing for publishing not for intimate corespondance travelogue. It is because of 84 that she was even able to go to see her, by then, abandonned, and borded up, beloved bookshop. My advice to the skeptical reader; read it if only to satsify yourself that hanff was able to finally visit her intellectual touchstone building, if not the man, across the pond.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You decide to stop using the word ¿anachronism¿ when a seventeenth-century carriage drives through the gates of Buckingham Palace carrying twentieth-century Russian or African diplomats to be welcomed by a queen. ¿Anachronism¿ implies something long dead, and nothing is dead here. History, as they say, is alive and well and living in London (p. 82)In 84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff collected the letters she and Frank Doel, a bookseller in London¿s famous Charing Cross Road, exchanged for twenty years, from just after WWII up until his death. Helene Hanff had always wanted to travel to England, but until the summer of June 1971, after 84 Charing Cross Road had been published and she went on tour to publicize the book, she had never had the opportunity to do so. This short book is a diary that Helene kept for the three weeks that she was in London and environs, meeting Frank Doel¿s family and some of the many people who enjoyed 84, Charing Cross Road.I went on vacation to London (and York) for a week at the beginning of the month, so I thought this would be the perfect book to get me in the mood for the trip. It¿s a short book; I finished it in a couple of hours on the plane ride. Helene Hanff went everywhere and did everything, it seems: Bloomsbury (personally, my favorite part of London), the site of Shakespeare¿s Globe Theatre (which hadn¿t yet been reconstructed by Sam Wannamaker), Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London. Some of those were places I went, too, so it was fun for me to read about what she saw and did. Helene even got so see some of the sights outside London: Eton and Oxford (only Helene could have a hissy fit in the middle of Wadham Yard!).The same funny, witty tone of voice she used in 84, Charing Cross Road comes right across in this novel, and I enjoyed reading some of her insights into England and the English (some of them ironic, as in):I find the treatment of royalty distinctly peculiar. The royal family lives in palaces heavily screened from prying eyes by fences, grounds, gates, guards, all designed to ensure the family absolute privacy. And every newspaper in London carried headlines announcing PRINCESS ANNE HAS OVARIAN CYST REMOVED. I mean you¿re a young girl reared in heavily guarded seclusion and every beer drinker in every pub knows the pricese state of your ovaries (p. 77-78).I must admit that I have a soft spot for Helene Hanff; we both have a Philadelphia connection, plus we are/were massive Anglophiles. I love the blunt, direct way that she addresses her readers, almost as if she¿s telling her story to you in person. She also has some great insights into London: how you can tell a city¿s character based on its parks:All the parks here are every serene, very gentle¿ lying in peaceful St. James¿s, I realize how much a city¿s parks reflect the character of its people. The parks here are tranquil, quiet, a bit reserved, and I love them. But on a long-term basis I would sorely miss the noisy exuberance of Central Park (pp54-56).
PensiveCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a sequel of sorts to 84 Charing Cross Road. Instead of two decades of correspondence between a London bookseller and Helene Hanff, she is finally in London herself. It comes to her attention that she should keep some sort of travel journal, and that is the main source of Duchess. At last Helene meets some of the people she has known through letters, as well as Bibliophiles, old friends, eccentrics, and the son of Marks (from Marks & Co.) She maintains a frank humor thoughout the book, and manages to complain without seeming like a whiner. This is definitely worth a reading or two - it's not very long but full of love for London and books.
Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was rather underwhelmed by this memoir of Hanff's first visit to London. If you've read her better-known first book, 84 Charing Cross Road, you'll know that she is a dyed-in-the-wool Anglophile and passionate booklover. There, the New Yorker charted her long correspondence-cum-friendship with British bookseller Frank Doel. Once the book starts bringing in royalties as well as more paying work, Hanff decides to fly to London for the book's English launch. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, written in diary form, charts not only the places she visits but the people she meets, including the now-deceased Frank's wife and daughter. I had hoped that it might stir my own fond memories of earlier visits, and at times, it did. But Hanff spends more time describing and criticizing the various people she meets--most of whom are trying to show her a good time or who are expressing their delight in her book--than detailing her first impressions of all the glorious sites of London that she has longed to see. She comes off, I think, as a rather self-obsessed and cranky woman and, oddly, while she seems a bit of a misanthrope, she apparently delights in listing all of her invitations and acquaintances--complaining all the while. After awhile I found myself skimming the pages for the "good stuff" and ignoring the rest. All said, however, not a bad read for a single afternoon.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
84, Charing Cross Road is an epistolary true story of a correspondence between the author living in New York and Frank Doel, the manager of Marks and Co. a bookstore in England. They correspond for twenty years as Helene buys books from the store and sends them food as they are under British rations. The story in that book ends at the death of Frank in 1969.After Hanff's book is published, she finally gets a chance to go to England, something she has longed to do her entire life and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is her journal of that trip. my review: This was a short but delightful read, much like it's predecessor. Hanff holds nothing back and tries to experience England to it's fullest in the short-time she will be there. She finally meets Frank's family face to face and many of her fans and pen pals. This book also reads like a guide for a true anglophile on a trip to Britain and is a nice follow-up for those that read 84, Charing Cross Road.Both stories are charming and delightful, cleansing your reading palate between larger, more complex reads.my rating 4/5
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Helene Hanff kept up a correspondence with a book friend in London for twenty years. Finally, after publishing a book composed of letters between the two, Hanff gets an opportunity to travel to London. Of course, she will never get to meet her friend, who died before her letters were published. Nevertheless, she makes the trip and meets many fans of her book.
sdunford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elegantly written, and still timely, bu only if you've read its predecessor 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD
D_MacGowan More than 1 year ago
A great follow-up to Hanff's better-known "84, Charing Cross Road."