INCLUDES AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE READERS '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 & Noble's grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies.' So begins the delightfully reticent love affair between Miss Helene Hanff of ...
INCLUDES AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE READERS '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 & 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 20 years, this outspoken New York writer and Frank Doel, a rather more restrained London bookseller carry on an increasingly touching correspondence. No doubt their letters would have continued, but in 1969, a letter 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.'
I came upon the work of Helene Hanff via the film, 84 Charing Cross Road, which I found to be a delight. I purchased the book to see what the actual basis of the film had been. It's a brief book of letters between a book buyer and a book seller, one in New York and one in London, over a period of three decades after World War II. The insights I gained about how that experience differed for people in the U.S. and people in the U.K. were numerous.
The realization of highest import to me was the fact that I rarely ever hear anyone discussing books they have read, or want to read, in-depth any longer in my own community. Even among my friends, a literate and articulate bunch, the discussion of the written word has disappeared. Everyone is so focused on multimedia entertainment that they have forgotten the slower-paced pleasures of books and the subsequent sharing of those books with others in conversation.
The appreciation for the qualities of thought and content in books glitters throughout this brief volume. For anyone who loves books, Hanff's compilation of letters is itself a love letter to the world of letters and literature.
Oct 24, 2013
Funny, intellectually challenging - the books she read! Written by a true book lover.
Jul 20, 2007
84 "Charming" Cross Road
I adore Helene Hanff. Her books, they kinda overlap, but this is the lynchpin of her "Anglophilan (is that a word ?. . . well, it should be)/ I Love NY" collection, that includes: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, Underfoot in Show Business, The Apple of My Eye, and a few more . . . I think. A collection of letters, this book is a speed read, and is about Helene's protracted, platonic, loving relationship with an antiquarian British book seller, through 20 or so years of correspondence. It all starts as business, but Helene's sense of humor and endearing charm, create something much more enduring. At the start of the book, Helene is barely getting by as a writer, with a love for literature. WWII is happening in the background . . . and she resorts to ordering books from England, to get nice quality copies of the books she loves so well. That's how she meets Frank. Their letters are humorous, and despite the fact that the subject matter is almost always about books, the personalities of both letter writers reveal themselves. This is a quick read and simply delightful.
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.