Bonnie's Reviews > 84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
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's review
Dec 28, 12

it was amazing
bookshelves: auto-biographies-and-memoirs, nonfiction
Read in November, 2012

This is just the most charming book.

I cannot believe that real people really wrote these letters – they’re warm and slyly witty in a way that I thought only existed in carefully crafted works by professional authors. I spent the first ¼ under the mistaken impression that this was fiction. I don’t know how this has been on my TBR for so long and I never knew it was nonfiction! Or I knew and I forgot.

This has all the makings of a typical romcom – New York City writer contacts a used bookshop in London to indulge her passion for hard-to-find nonfiction and begins a correspondence with a British bookseller. He’s initially stiff and formal but underneath he is good-humored and clever. She’s charming and chipper and much more informal – she’s kind of a classic 1930s bubbly heroine (I kept getting flashbacks to Cold Comfort Farm).

Except their relationship was strictly platonic and strictly by correspondence. Frank (the British bookseller) had a wife he seemed very happy with and Helene apparently never really wanted to marry anyone (so says wikipedia).

While I would have liked my dreamy romance, I'm very pleased with the book I got of two book-lovers (and those in their orbit) writing across the Atlantic their letters full of wit and charm.

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