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Review: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Review: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff post image

Title: 84 Charing Cross Road
Author: Helene Hanff
Genre: Nonfiction
Year: 1970
Acquired: Bought
Rating: ★★★★½

Review: I think anyone who really loves books should take the time to read 84 Charing Cross Road. That’s why I’m even bothering to review it, since I sort of feel like everyone has already read it. But, if you happen to be a person who hasn’t yet, go out and find this book pronto.

84 Charing Cross Road is a collection of letters between author Helene Hanff and bookstore employee Frank Doel, who works for Marks & Co in London. Hanff lives in New York, and writes to the store asking for their help finding used copies of some of her favorite books. The letter writing relationship last years, and Hanff and Doel strike up a friendship over a mutual love of books.

I saw a charming play version of this story several weeks ago, and immediately found myself a copy of the book. I read it very late at night during the Read-a-Thon, and found the letters just as lovely as the play – sweet, funny, and full of moments where I felt totally connected to this little world created and maintained through letters.

It’s just… the perfect sort of book for book lovers. Go read it.

Other Reviews: Here’s a list from the Books Blog Search Engine.

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shelley (Book Clutter) October 20, 2010, 7:58 am

    I also read this for the read-a-thon, but when I think about reviewing it, I find I don’t have much to say, other than it’s charming. I love the cover you have on here.

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:17 am

      Shelley: I love that cover too – I think it’s an earlier version, not the one that I actually read. I wasn’t sure about reviewing it either, since I don’t know I said much, but wanted to at least remind people what a lovely book it is.

  • BuriedInPrint October 20, 2010, 8:49 am

    I agree: it’s a book worth talking about, because even though lots of us have read it, you know how you can hear about a book many times and think you should read it before you actually *do* it, so your post might be the one that puts someone over the bookish edge. And they’ll be eternally grateful to you! (BTW, in some ways I enjoyed the film even more: I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, even though it is an older film by now, which might put off some viewers.)

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:19 am

      BuriedInPrint: Yep, I totally know what you mean – sometimes you need just one more review to finally convince you to make the leap to get it from the library to get it. I’m looking forward to the movie too, I like older movies.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) October 20, 2010, 11:36 am

    I haven’t read this yet, but I really want to!

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:19 am

      Kathy: I think you’d really like it!

  • Helen Murdoch October 20, 2010, 12:59 pm

    I haven’t read this book, but the title jumped out and me and I got a major childhood flashback. I don’t even remember what year it was but I remember watching (and loving) the BBC production.

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:20 am

      Helen Murdoch: Is the BBC production the movie BuriedInPrint mentioned? If so, I can’t wait to see it!

  • Amy October 20, 2010, 1:56 pm

    I haven’t read it, so I’m glad you reviewed it. And your review makes me want to read it 🙂

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:20 am

      Amy: Oh good, I hope you get a chance. At the rate you read, I bet you can finish it pretty quickly.

  • Belle October 20, 2010, 5:07 pm

    I have had this book on my “I want to read this” list for ages, but never did anything more about it. You’ve prompted me to add this one to my wishlist at Bookmooch!

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:21 am

      Belle: Yay, I’m glad to be the post that pushed you to do that! You’ll like the book when you get to read it.

  • Erin October 20, 2010, 6:13 pm

    I’m pleased I’m not the only commenter who hasn’t read 84 Charing Cross Road! I must say, though I know the title I didn’t know what it was about. It sounds wonderful, and it is going onto my list!

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:22 am

      Erin: Awesome! It’s funny how a book can seem everywhere, but not really be as big as you thought. I’m glad you have readers who haven’t read it yet.

  • Heather Pearson October 20, 2010, 8:25 pm

    I was sent this book by a fellow bookcrosser. I think I read it in one sitting and loved it. I must have read it before I started blogging. Have since passed it along to a friend.

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:22 am

      Heather Pearson: I’m recommending this book to all my bookish friends, although I’m not sure I’ll give my copy away since I can imagine wanting to read it again someday.

  • Esme October 20, 2010, 11:16 pm

    I have not only not read this-I have never even heard of it. Based on your recommendation I will read it. Did you ever finish Angel of Grozny-I am still reading it-it is rather intense.

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:23 am

      Esme: Awesome!

      Yep, I finished Angel of Grozny awhile ago – it was really intense, but I tend to just read straight through those because I get so absorbed. I’m read to review whenever you get finished 🙂

  • Amanda October 21, 2010, 6:20 am

    I read this for readathon last year and I admit, at first I didn’t see anything special about it. Maybe that was because I was reading fast, but I just remember thinking what’s the big deal? And then the ending came out of nowhere, and those last letters made me cry. I realized I was far more invested than I thought I was, which showed how powerful the book really was. I’m glad I read it.

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:24 am

      Amanda: I think that’s exactly right. It’s sort of a breezy book for most of the beginning, then the end hits like a punch and you realize what a huge deal this relationship was. I love books that are able to do that.

  • Lynne October 21, 2010, 7:05 am

    I meant to get this when you talked about it during the Readathon, but forgot. So I just now went to my library website and ordered it.

    I’ve been to London a few times and I remember seeing the street Charing Cross Road.

    Thanks for the rec, Kim 🙂

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:25 am

      Lynne: Yay, cool! I went to London a few years ago, but I don’t think I made it to Charing Cross Road. I might go back next summer, and if I do I am absolutely going to do that.

  • Deb@Debbie's Book Bag October 21, 2010, 10:43 am

    I’m one of those people who haven’t read this one yet… Sounds interesting… I’ll give it a try.

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:26 am

      Deb: It is interesting, and quite quick to read if you do give it a try.

  • Stephanie October 21, 2010, 6:35 pm

    This does sound wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to eavesdrop on lots of bookish conversations? 🙂

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:27 am

      Stephanie: I know, right? It’s so fun to get into people’s experiences through their letters.

  • Care October 22, 2010, 10:08 am

    A wonderful book, a memorable book. I even remember who the blogger was the introduced me to it and fondly think of her when I think about this great entertaining touching story.

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:29 am

      Care: Aww, that’s nice. You’ve summed it up completely.

  • Marie October 23, 2010, 7:43 am

    Putting this on the TBR right now! I had never heard of this book until you wrote about it. Sounds great!!

    • Kim October 24, 2010, 11:29 am

      Marie: Awesome, I hope you like it!

  • tolmsted October 25, 2010, 7:40 pm

    Kim, did you know there was a sequel? The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. I don’t recommend reading it though… as I remember it, I found it disappointing and a bit depressing compared to the first book.

  • Kim October 26, 2010, 6:37 pm

    tolmsted: I didn’t know there was a sequel – I’ll might look into it even if it’s not quite as good.

  • Jenny October 30, 2010, 10:12 am

    The sequel’s not terrible, but the first one’s way better. She visits London in The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, but there are bits of it that are quite sad, and some of the charm is lost. I like it because I love reading about people going to London. :p

    • Kim October 31, 2010, 9:00 am

      Jenny: I love reading about going to London too. I might get to do that this summer, so the sequel might be a good getting ready for London book.