If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.
I have no idea why I have only just got around to reading this delightful book. I love bookstores and epistolary tales and this is a wonderful collection of letters sent back and forth across the ocean between the employees of a London bookstore and New York writer Helene Hanff. It was fun to read 84, Charing Cross Road for the personalities of the characters, and their imaginations of each other as they wrote back and forth. And also the references to context and world events of the time. And also, of course, books.
I recently finished Hanff’s companion memoir: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, which is a collection of diary entries from Hanff’s trip to London, 20 years after her 84, Charing Cross Road correspondence began. It was fun to follow Hanff’s tour of London, as she rides a wave of fame made from the publication of 84, Charing Cross Road. The bookstore has closed by this time, and her primary penpal has died, but she is a bit of a celebrity and it’s fun to read about her adventures. I bet I would have enjoyed it more if I had been to London and knew some of these places myself, but her voice is witty, reflective, engaging. It was an easy, good read.
All this inspired me to find a copy of the movie 84, Charing Cross Road in the library and I have now watched and enjoyed that too.