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84, Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff

Published: 1990-10-01
Paperback : 112 pages
4 members reading this now
15 clubs reading this now
7 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 4 members
This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, 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 ...
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Introduction

This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, 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 winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world.

"84, Charing Cross Road will beguile and put you in tune with mankind... It will provide an emollient for the spirit and sheath for the exposed nerve." -- The New York Times

"A unique, throat-lumping, side-splitting treasure." -- San Francisco Examiner

Editorial 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."

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Discuss the similarieties and differences between this book and The Storied Life of A. J. Fickrey.
by tompatrice (see profile) 02/18/16

Did you learn something from the website that helped you understand something more from the book?
by aeberle (see profile) 02/17/16

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Visit the Website during your discussion
by aeberle (see profile) 02/17/16
Along with a few other books we have read in our book group, we have visited photos and such of actors by Googling them. However, this book actually has a site dedicated to it http://www.84charingcrossroad.co.uk/ There are photos of the real life people and background stories.
See the Movie with the Book
by RockinRenee (see profile) 02/27/13
Seeing the movie helps give the readers the sense of character development that I feel the book is lacking. It really helped me to understand the book and become attached to the characters.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "A lovely, quick read"by Laurie S. (see profile) 03/27/18

I listened to 84, Charing Cross Road on audio. It was very well done and I believe added to the story because the voices were excellent and help flesh out the characters of this short book. Not every book... (read more)

 
by Angela S. (see profile) 09/24/17

 
by Pauline H. (see profile) 06/13/16

 
  "The lost art of corresponding by letter beautifully brought to life."by Patrice C. (see profile) 02/18/16

A memoir via the written letter - what a "novel" idea. A NYC screen writer searching for hard to find books via correspondence with a used book seller in London. And the kicker is that these are the actual... (read more)

 
  "Decent Read and very neat"by Alexandra E. (see profile) 02/17/16

I thought this was a decent and fast read. It is a very small book and is told in letters. The only thing that can trip you up is not paying attention to the dates b/c I found my self a few times getting... (read more)

 
  "A Fun and Short Read"by Nicole A. (see profile) 02/27/13

84 Charing Cross Road is an epistolary novel about a woman's correspondence with a bookseller that gets her rare, but second-hand books. It is definitely relatable for those who are book-lovers. A book-lover... (read more)

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