Published by Penguin Books on September 1970
Genres: Classics, Memoir, Non-Fiction
It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.
84, Charing Cross Road is a truly delightful true story of friendship retold through a series of letters that were written between 1949 and 1968. The friendship between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel developed after Helene had sent a request for a specific list of books to Marks & Co. in London. From there, the correspondence continued over the years between the two but also between the other employees of Mark & Co. and even with Frank’s family who were grateful to Helene for her kindness as she would send them food packs when they were dealing with rations in London. Their friendship was quite touching and I enjoyed watching as their letters developed more personal touches over the years.
“You see how it is, Frankie, you’re the only soul alive who understands me.”
Helene was always planning a trip to England to visit the people she had written to for a great many years; however, life forever got in the way and the trip simply never occurred. I loved Helene’s sense of humor; she was quite amusing and incredibly charming. Reading the last page of the book made me sigh with longing… contemplating a different ending; one where Helene would actually make it over to England.
“If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.”