84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (EPUB)

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Ebook Info

  • Published: 1990
  • Number of pages: 112 pages
  • Format: EPUB
  • File Size: 0.68 MB
  • Authors: Helene Hanff


“Those who have read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a novel comprised of only letters between the characters, will see how much that best-seller owes 84, Charing Cross Road.” — Medium.comA heartwarming love story about people who love books for readers who love booksThis funny, poignant, classic love story unfolds through a series of letters between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a charming, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Discover the relationship that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world, and was the basis for a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft.

User’s Reviews

Editorial Reviews: Amazon.com Review 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.” Review “A real-life love story . . . A timeless period piece. Do read it.” ―The Wall Street Journal “Those who have read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a novel comprised of only letters between the characters, will see how much that bestseller owes 84, Charing Cross Road.” —Medium.com “[84, Charing Cross Road] will beguile an hour of your time and put you in tune with mankind. . . . It will provide an emollient for the spirit and a sheath for the exposed nerve.” —The New York Times “A unique, throat-lumping, side-splitting treasure.” —San Francisco Examiner “This book is the very simple story of the 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.” —Daily Telegraph (London) 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. Read more

Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:

⭐A friend suggested this book, Itgoes back to à time when people wrote letters and waited for them and spent long lengths of time to get know each other. It brought back memories of all the letters I wrote years ago.

⭐An Amazing read, written by an Incredible writer who knew EXACTLY what she wanted and where to find it! A truly heartwarming book.

⭐The book is in excellent condition and could easily pass as new, but what bothered me is that it doesn’t have the same cover as the one in the picture, which I actually like better than the one I received.

⭐With fifty years of memory on my brain’s hard-drive, I can’t actually remember when I first came across this volume. To say this book has left an indelible mark on my heart would be an understatement; it has had a profound effect on my life.This book is `the perfect storm’ for me. I have a couple paperbacks, a copy of the play script, an audio book, and the film. I love the era, the book love (not just reading but being around books, the library, haunting old book shops – talking about books and just being with the books) and also letter writing to friends. I have a couple of pen pals – my favourite is my friend Edel in Ireland (oh, how I long to jump on a plane and surprise her). I love most English things and NYC too (the theatre, museums…). Like Helene, my heart skips a beat as I approach my mailbox and see a package waiting for me. For me this book evokes a time and a place – a simpler way of life.She was a near-do-well. Her book “Underfoot in Show Business” details her career. She only “just” made enough to get by. She wrote plays that were never produced. She wrote for “live” television, but when the studios learned how to “film” television everyone moved to Hollywood. Helene wrote educational books – biographies for children. This book, “84, Charing Cross Road,” the play and film, her subsequent books and “Letter from New York” (her BBC radio broadcasts), kept her solvent, but never made her rich.I found a hardbound edition at Powell’s (in Portland, OR) that I would run into a burning house to save.In “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Holly talks about ‘the mean reds’ – when she and the world are at odds and everything just seems wrong (which is different from ‘the blues’) and how she goes to Tiffany’s…”84, Charing Cross Road” is where I go.RE: the audio book: I’ve read the book several times (+ other books by Ms. Hanff): I adore the film – one of my all-time favorites. So, why did I even need to purchase this? Well, I’m always looking for short books like this one to take on trips (and such). This one, is just a little slice of heaven. I’ve been in love with Juliette Stevenson ever since “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” and on through “Being Julia” and “Bend it Like Beckham.” Her performance here is all you would expect. I laughed and I cried all over again. I can not recommend this one enough. Buy it – NOW.

⭐Real letters.I miss old fashioned letters, perhaps especially now that we live in the age of email. There are so few real letters left now, and this little collection here is a gem. I was reminded of some old ‘real’ letters saved, having by now collected dust, left from my parent’s generation, and from a time long gone by.Occasionally I stumble over collections of published letters in antique bookstores.I found this by accident in my favorite corner book store. It is by Helene Hanff, and it’s thin so it easily escapes your eye. Happy to learn that it has been reprinted by Penguin.I was in stitches the moment I opened and began reading the first letter, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them.With book orders from Amazon now, the occasion for the letters will likely not be repeated. Helene was ordering used books from the book store in London.The collection covers letters exchanged between ordinary people living their separate and ordinary lives on two Continents; one, Helene, in America, a freelance writer, living alone in a small apartment in New York City, E 95th Street, and in England, the staff in an antique bookstore in London, on 84, Charing Cross Road, Marks & Co; mainly Frank signing the letters from Charing Cross Road. The period spans three decades, starting a few years after WW 2, in the period of austerity in England.By now, I have read it several times. I also learned that it has become a cult classic. And it has even been turned into a movie.I found the book especially captivating because of its humanity and good humor. It brings the times and the people to life.And the contrast of cultures can’t help but to captivate; the no-nonsense prose of Helene, contrasted with the British polite formalities.From Marks & Co to Helene: “Dear Madam; In reply to your letter of October 5th… .” And a PS in Helene’s reply letter: “I hope “madam” doesn’t mean over there what it does here.”The exchanges continue through the years, each one with book orders from Helene, and payments enclosed in the envelopes from Helene. And during rationing in London, there are food packages from Helene to friends at Marks & Co.Sometime in the sixties, Frank dies unexpectedly. Sadly the two never get to meet in person.In one of Helene’s last letters: “The blessed man who sold me all these books died … . If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.” — Review by Palle Jorgensen, April 2011.

⭐I’ve read this book before, many years ago, but this is the first time I have had an edition which includes the sequel book The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. I also hadn’t realised how much the film changes the story (as usual!).The first book consists purely of letters between Helene Hanff (yes, this really happened) and the staff at Marks & Co – in the main Frank Doel. Helene has that smart mouth New York way of writing and it is really so entertaining, I just loved it.The second book is when Helene finally gets to London in the 60s and I loved this book even more. Maybe because she stays in Bloomsbury an area I know well and even the hotel I regularly used to stay in – which makes it seem all the more special to me now.She sees London and trips further afield through the eyes of a New Yorker and it is just so entertaining. These are the days before mobile phones and it was a joy to read of her receiving notes inviting her to be somewhere, sometimes at short notice and her then trying to find her way around London. It’s a fantastic trip back into the past.I’ve now ordered Helene Hanff’s others books which include an autobiography – I want to go back to her world.

⭐What a beautiful and timeless series of letter between an American woman and a London bookseller. I found it witty, full of humour and a touching and expressive story of the love of books. As we move through the year s the poignancy of the story is clear to see.Loved it. I listened to it with Juliet Stevenson and John Nettles. Bought a paper copy with the sequel immediately.5 stars

⭐84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff, is an entertaining, evocative and moving collection of letters sent by the author, from her home in New York, to the staff at an antiquarian bookshop in London. Their correspondence spanned twenty years and resulted in a valued friendship.There is an essence of the various writers in each letter. The author offsets her impatience with humour. Frank Doel, her main contact at the shop, displays a courteous formality underscored by his obvious wit. The other ‘inmates’ at Charing Cross Road are more curious and open. Even Frank’s wife, their neighbour, and some of the author’s friends eventually become involved.Each letter is short and concerns the acquisition of books alongside little personal asides. Occasional gifts are exchanged and thanks sent. All parties express an eagerness to one day meet.It is hard to fathom why such a little book could be quite so captivating, other than the obvious quirks of the writers that are divulged in their writing. The shared love of literature and of the books themselves are appealing to any bibliophile. The historical detail referenced – post war rationing, a coronation, the purchase of a first car, the Beatles – adds to the sense of time passing and the world changing. Little is mentioned of how each correspondent looks allowing the emphasis to be rightly reserved for the people they are inside.Perhaps it is the lack of explanatory text. The letters are allowed to tell the story and they are enough.This is a meeting of minds, a shared love, a poignant reminder of what friendship can be. It is a gentle and beautiful read.Note: This edition of the book also contains Helene Hanff’s ‘The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street’ which I review separately.

⭐I was surprised the text of 84 Charing Cross Road is so brief (less than 100 pages). The letters themselves are presented just as they are without any linking narrative. The longer second half of this edition is the sequel The Duchess of Bloomsbury which was published a few years later and is in diary form It’s a very slight but nevertheless fleetingly engaging read. Unfortunately, Hanff has the intensely irritating American trait of equating ‘England’ with the UK – when oh when will we see an end to this ignorance! A good read on the whole.

⭐I saw the film 84 Charing Cross Road some years ago with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins in the leading roles as the bibliophile American Helene Hanff and the English bookseller Frank Doel. I remember their brilliant acting and their unsentimental relationship when sending each other letters across the Atlantic – the first writing in a direct and American way when ordering her books; the other answering with typical English reserve and politeness. However, in spite of their difference of form it was obvious to me that they nourished a deep sympathy and respect for each other.It is interesting to see how close the film follows the first part of the book, the second part is about Helene coming to England and how she is treated by friends and admirers when her book is going to be published. This part is not incorporated in the film and I, for my part, read it almost as an afterthought of what I see as the main part; the correspondence between Helene and Frank. Their relationship lasted for twenty years; from 1949, when Helene saw an ad in Saturday Review of Literature saying that Frank’s shop was a specialist in out-of-print books, till he died of a ruptured appendix in 1969. Through the letters we get more than a glimpse of English post-war austerity juxtaposed to American affluence – giving Helene an opportunity to show her empathy by sending food to Frank and the staff at the bookshop – food they never saw or was only obtainable on the black market at the time.All in all, this is a lovely story and a homage to English culture and literature from an anglophile who admire the “Englishness” of the country. And since the setting is English post-war gloom we meet people who are less blasé and more innocent than people of today in their pursuit of the good life. And that is perhaps the main reason for the book’s appeal…


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