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The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,015 Ratings  ·  329 Reviews
A zesty memoir of the celebrated writer's travels to England where she meets the cherished friends from 84, Charing Cross Road.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Moyer Bell (first published 1973)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Deborah Markus
84, Charing Cross Road should have a warning sticker on the cover: "Be sure to have a copy of The Duchess Of Bloomsbury Street on hand BEFORE beginning this book."

If you've read 84, you already know it takes maybe an hour to finish, including bathroom breaks and getting up to brew a cup of tea (and maybe trying to make that recipe for Yorkshire pudding, while you're at it). You also know it's impossible to read 84 and not want to read more of Helene Hanff's writing. Certainly you'll be longing t
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Kim
Sep 29, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
This is the chronicle of Helene Hanff's long delayed visit to London in the summer of 1971, following on from the publication of her well-known book 84, Charing Cross Road.

While it lacks the unselfconscious charm of 84 Charing Cross Road, this memoir is still full of exuberance and wit. For anyone who has at last travelled to a long dreamed-of country or city, the book brings to mind all of the anticipation, wonder and excitement of such an adventure.

As a traveller on her first visit to London
...more
Cindy Rollins
May 13, 2016 Cindy Rollins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread, 2016
This is not a 5 star-book for all and sundry, but for anglophiles who want to read every book written by a British author and who long to physically visit the places they have haunted in their dreams then this is THE book for you. For me it is a 10-star book because I read it 20 year ago and deeply understood the emotions behind the book. I wondered if I would ever go to 'The England of literature" or if it would be "too late" as someone told Helene. If I went to England would I be disappointed? ...more
Elizabeth A
May 22, 2013 Elizabeth A rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This is a companion book to the more widely know 84, Charing Cross Road. The edition I read had both books. What a delightful surprise.

While 84, Charing Cross Road is a collection of letters that span 20 years between the author and Frank Doel (and others), the Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is a collection of diary entries made by the author on her first trip to London. Her keen observations of people, time and place, makes for an interesting read. As does her dry humor. While I liked this fun, f
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Michelle
Apr 12, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
I loved 84, Charing Cross Road so much, I was eager to read this follow-up--Helene finally gets to London! And I was not disappointed. The same verve, making friends wherever she goes, but also still her edge--she ends up instructing a bartender how to make martinis HER way, and pitches a fit at Oxford when her "tour guide" friends won't take her where SHE wants to go and insist on taking her shopping, but this is combined with trenchant comments comparing American and British culture and a sens ...more
Gerry
Jun 14, 2015 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helene Hanff always wanted to visit England following the success of her book '84 Charing Cross Road' in which she corresponded with the booksellers Marks & Co. And she got her wish in June 1971 when she touched down at Heathrow Airport to be met by an unknown-to-her admirer who had made previous contact before she left New York.

The result of her visit is this delightfully chatty book about her experiences while here when she adopted for herself the title of this volume as her parties, outin
...more
Holly
Dec 21, 2014 Holly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who's read 84 Charing Cross Road
A lovely follow up to 84 Charing Cross Road. While I definitely prefer 84, I love how Hanff finally got to London, although years too late for Frank! And I personally don't like London nearly as much as she does!

Nevertheless, it was a lovely book, and I'm glad I read it. I just wish there were more people in it from 84! A definite recommended read for anyone who has already read 84!
Margie
Feb 14, 2013 Margie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: bluestockings, Anglophiles
Shelves: about-books
You must go out and read 84, Charing Cross Road, and then read this. Both are excellent, and this is a wonderful follow-up to the first. Do not read them out of order.

Helene Hanff sounds exactly like one would want one's maiden aunt to be, unless one wanted someone a bit more madcap, like Auntie Mame. She's witty and interesting and is absolutely head over heels in love with London. I got such an appreciation of the London of literature from this book. She is deeply reverent of what she sees, an
...more
Jennifer
Aug 22, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
This is the perfect book for me right now because, like Helene Hanff, I'm a lifelong anglophile who is fortunate enough to live outside of London right now. So reading her incredible story of finally visiting London and enthusiastic reaction to everything hits home for me. I loved Helene's voice, the way she accepts dinner invitations from strangers, the way she charms the Brits and instructs bartenders on how to make a martini, the way she gets excited to walk down streets she's read about in b ...more
Diane
Sep 02, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it
This is a sequel to the book "84 Charing Cross Road," which is a favorite of mine. In "Duchess," Helene finally travels to London and she gets a small taste of fame since her "84" book has been published. She takes many tours around the city and has outings to the countryside, and the book is a diary of her travels. If you liked "84 Charing Cross Road," you will probably enjoy this book.
Kristi
Jul 16, 2016 Kristi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual ratings 3.5. Lovely follow up to 84 Charring Cross Road, and read at the perfect time as I have just travelled to London for the first time, and had many experiences that mirrored Helene's (what is with those showers?!).
Janet
Apr 17, 2016 Janet rated it really liked it
This is the sequel to 84 Charing Cross Road. If you have read the former you know that *spoiler alert* Helene doesn't realize her lifelong dream of visiting England in a timely way. But in this book, she finally makes it across the pond and is swept away in a cloud (fog?) of all her favorite Anglophile authors and places. Many of Helene's favorite authors are no longer (or never were) in the literary canon so you may not share her excitement but you can't help but be charmed by her observations ...more
Sandy T
Jan 23, 2009 Sandy T rated it really liked it
..."All my life I've wanted to see London. I used to go to English movies just to look at streets with houses like those. Staring at the screen in a dark theater, I wanted to walk down those streets so badly it gnawed at me like hunger. Sometimes, at home in the evening, reading a casual description of London by Hazlitt or Leigh Hunt, I'd put the book down suddenly, engulfed by a wave of longing that was like homesickness. I wanted to see London the way old people want to see home before they d ...more
Evan
In case you don't know 84 Charing Cross Road, it was a 1970 sleeper hit epistolary charmer written by a curmudgeonly late-middle-aged, sassy, and obscure New York writer named Helene Hanff. I enjoyed that book immensely (as well as the film adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft), and gave the book five stars. That book, in the form of selected letters culled from a 20-year series of correspondence, chronicled her pen-pal relationship with a gentlemanly London bookseller, his cowo ...more
Trace
Jun 19, 2015 Trace rated it really liked it
Loved reading about Helene Hanff's long awaited trip to London. Loved reading about the connections she made there. Am curious as to whether her friendship with PB continued via correspondence. Would love to see the portrait that was painted of her.
Bam
Feb 21, 2015 Bam rated it really liked it
Helene Hanff finally made it to London in June of 1971. By then the antiquarian bookshop of Marks & Co. at 84 Charing Cross Road was no longer in business; Frank Doel, the manager, had died over two years before. Ironically, she was financially able to fly to London because of the success of her book which contained the correspondence between herself, Doel and others from the bookshop over a twenty year period as they formed a close friendship. The book had been published the year before.

Thi
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Kirstin
The copy of 84 Charing Cross Road I checked out fom the library included this book. While I enjoyed 84, I found this one to be very boring. It is like sitting through the slides from a stranger's trip to England that are full of people you also don't know but even worse because there aren't even any pictures to look at to distract you from the boring rehash of their itinerary.
Andrew
Jul 11, 2016 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Not as funny as 84 Charing Cross Road , but still captures New York dame Helene Hanff's voice.

It's been twenty years since her bookish love affair with England began and now she visits her adopted country as a famous author. There are dinners and outings, but it's an odd Britain. No longer the war-ravaged country picking itself up, the country Hanff visits seems like the last vestiges of Old England. She arrives in 1971 and tours parks and graves in the company of colonels and Etonians
...more
Jane Reye
Feb 28, 2015 Jane Reye rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars. A different animal to 84 Charing Cross Road, despite it being written in similar epistolary style (this book is composed of diary entries as opposed to its predecessor's letter format). An enjoyable read, though I feel it has less charm and somehow less literary focus (more 'hero worship' than 'word worship'). Worth reading if you are curious about the 'after' of 84, Charing Cross Road.
Karen Floyd
Dec 07, 2015 Karen Floyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, memoir, humor
In this sequel to "84, Charing Cross Road" Helene Hanff finally gets to go to England, to meet some of the people see corresponded with for 20 years, and to fulfill her lifelong wish to SEE LONDON. Sadly, her prime correspondent, Frank Doel, has passed away, and the bookstore he worked at, Marks & Co., has closed its doors and stands derelict. But Hanff enjoys visiting his wife and daughter, meets the son of Mr. Marks (of Marks & Co.), and makes many new friends, many of them fans of her ...more
Jeff Crompton
Sep 13, 2014 Jeff Crompton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Hanff's wonderful 84, Charing Cross Road for the third time (I think), I read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street for the second time. As my friend Paul says in his review, this book can't match the earlier one, but it's very enjoyable.

I can relate to Hanff's wonder at being in London after dreaming of it for so long, and to her love of visiting the "holy sites" of English literature. I feel the same way when I visit New Orleans and visit Congo Square, or touch the wall of a building
...more
Trin
Jan 10, 2009 Trin rated it really liked it
Reread, 'cause having read 84 Charing Cross Road again, I had to read the sequel. This is even better than I remembered—I think I recalled it being a bit of a disappointment after 84. It's not; it's just different. And it especially resonated now that I've actually been to London and recognize some of the places Hanff describes and the feeling of finally being in the city you've read about so many times even more. (Although Hanff wasn't exactly going, "Just like it's described in Neverwhere!" Sh ...more
Sabita Mehra
Jan 30, 2015 Sabita Mehra rated it liked it
I really liked the unexpected find of this book juxtaposed with 84 Charing Cross Road. Its really lovely to read a travelogue on London and Oxford by someone who so evidently loves the place. Even more so because I grew up reading books with a London backdrop, played Monopoly, and in more recent years, had the good fortune of visiting London a few times. She makes the place come alive. It's also a fast and gentle read but again, not something that will live with me for years to come.
Kats
Aug 14, 2015 Kats rated it it was ok
84 Charing Cross Road was a lovely book, albeit much too short for my liking, and I was delighted to have this sequel / companion book to enjoy straight after finishing 84CCR,that was going to take me at least twice as long to read. Sadly, not only did it fall flat for me, but I fell out of love with Helene Hanff a bit. I can't put my finger on it, but I found her ever so slightly conceited following the success of her book which, let's face it, wasn't actually her book at all, but simply a coll ...more
Kate
Dec 01, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In 1970 Helene Hanff wrote 84, Charing Cross Road, a record of a postal love affair with England through a twenty-year correspondence with a London bookseller. ... the book found thousands of devoted readers. Their fervent wish -- and hers above all -- was that she go to England. Now at last in The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street that dream comes true."
~~back cover

It's hard to know what to say about this book. I loved it, just as I loved 84, Charing Cross Road. She is so uniquely herself, and expl
...more
Claire Fuller
Dec 13, 2015 Claire Fuller rated it it was amazing
A friend lent me this after we had a chat about 84, Charing Cross Road, which I love. I didn't even know that this equally short and lovely sequel even existed. Hanff has such a open and honest tone of voice, and it was wonderful to see London in 1971 from an American's point of view - especially one who loved it.
Chris
This a a companion piece to Hanff's first book, 84, Charing Cross Road. After a 20-year correspondence with a book shop, Hanff finally makes it to jolly ole London. While I adored her first book, and the movie by the way, this book sort of fell flat for me. I've never been to London, while I would love to, so a lot of the references regarding authors, actresses, artists, and points of interest in the city were lost on me. But what wasn't lost was Hanff's characteristic humor; trying to get a tax ...more
Terry Southard
Oct 26, 2015 Terry Southard rated it really liked it
If you like to read about other folks' travels, you might check out this book after you read 84, Charing Cross Road. It's the memoir of Hanff's trip to London, years after the correspondence that was captured in the first book. I liked it just as much as the first one!
Roberta
Jun 19, 2015 Roberta rated it it was amazing
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street è il seguito di 84 Charing Cross Road. Avviso che in questa recensione ci saranno degli spoiler per chi non ha letto il primo libro (lo so che è strano sentir parlare di spoiler relativamente a un memoir, ma fidatevi). Helene Hanff riesce finalmente, dopo la pubblicazione del suo primo romanzo e dopo un importante intervento chirurgico, a fare il tanto desiderato viaggio a Londra, proprio per presentare 84 Charing Cross Road e questo libro è la pubblicazione del ...more
Shruti Rao
Feb 23, 2011 Shruti Rao rated it it was ok
It really was only "ok". I ordered a copy of "84..." and thought I was paying only for the one text, but after reaching the halfway mark of the copy, I realised "84..." ended and this one began! Whattay surprise. Needless to say I read it without even a 5 second gap after ending "84...", and thus, needless to say, I was disappointed. It's alright really, but it broke my heart that Hanff could make it to London only after Frank Doel passed away. I hope someone sends me indulging replies like Hanf ...more
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Helene Hanff (April 15, 1916–April 9, 1997) was an American writer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she is best known as the author of the book 84 Charing Cross Road, which became the basis for a play, teleplay, and film of the same name.

Her career, which saw her move from writing unproduced plays to helping create some of the earliest television dramas to becoming a kind of professional New Y
...more
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“I despair of ever getting it through anybody's head I am not interested in bookshops, I am interested in what's written in the books. I don't browse in bookshops, I browse in libraries, where you can take a book home and read it, and if you like it you go to a bookshop and buy it.” 30 likes
“History, as they say, is alive and well and living in London.” 13 likes
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