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The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,126 ratings  ·  637 reviews
This newly reissued cult favorite, which now includes an introduction by Plum Sykes, is a delightful diary—think Nancy Mitford-meets-Nora Ephron—chronicling author Helene Hanff’s “bucket list” trip to London (at the age of fifty-five!) after the unexpected success of her memoir 84 Charing Cross Road.

When she’s invited to London for the English publication of her wildly
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Harper Perennial (first published 1973)
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Kristin Hi! I have an edition from 1973. My page 132 starts out ...never said it."
The last sentence on p. 132 says, "I turned to Dorothy, ready to say…more
Hi! I have an edition from 1973. My page 132 starts out ...never said it."
The last sentence on p. 132 says, "I turned to Dorothy, ready to say something joking, but I never said it. She was literally open-mouthed, gawking at Leo."
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,126 ratings  ·  637 reviews

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Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, travelogue, diary
A week ago I read 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I found the concept of writing to the same pen pal over a twenty year period to be a refreshing and charming idea for a book. That the book has endured for nearly fifty years shows that many share my views of this slim memoir. In the comments of the review it was brought to my attention that Hanff had written a follow up to Charing Cross Road. Twenty years after she began correspondence, Hanff finally made it to London. A friend ...more
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
Ms. Smartarse
Every time I try to explain the awesomeness of 84, Charing Cross Road, I end up concluding my speech with "you'll just have to read this for yourself, to understand".

You just had to be there

I'm not a particularly emphatic person, when it comes to experiences I haven't personally gone through. But the fact that I found myself unable to sympathize with Ms. Hanff getting to see the Englad she'd dreamed about forever... was unexpected, to say the least. It's not like I don't recall going around London all googly-eyed, and
Cindy Rollins
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, reread
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
I had huge expectations from this one, especially after enjoying the snarky and wonderful 84 Charring Cross. However, I was disappointed. Where the sights and history of London is definitely interesting, the breezy nature of the writing, which was at times quite irritating and at other times quite insufficient made it lacklustre.

I don't compare books but this is one where I couldn't stop myself from making comparisons. While I accept that the book is a diary and as such diary entries don't
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: letters
This is Helene Hanff’s follow up to 84 Charing Cross Road and it is an account of her first visit to Britain in 1971, three years after Frank Doel’s death. It is in daily diary form. The visit combined some book promotion of 84 Charing Cross Road, meeting Doel’s wife and daughters and a number of other friends and acquaintances. As in the previous book Hanff’s personality and enthusiasm shine through. Her delight in visiting historical sites where some of those she admires first trod is also ...more
Our revels now are ended.
These our actors
. . . were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air . . .
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces. The solemn temples . . . dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind.
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on. . . .

thus ends Ms.Hanff her travellogue of visiting London and meeting the friends she made at the now closed old bookshop, 84,Charing Cross Road.
I was in a fugue this lazy Sunday ...travelling
Book Concierge
In a follow-up to her hugely popular 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff takes us to London. The book is written as diary/journal entries on her first (and last) trip to the city she had dreamed of visiting. Alas, her favorite bookstore, which she immortalized in her earlier book, was no more, but the success of that first book resulted in instant friends.

I loved how enthusiastic she was about seeing the literary landmarks she had so long dreamed about. I loved her reactions to differences and
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, travel
Basically, this is the follow up of 84, Charing Cross Street. After postponing for many years, Helen Hanff finally manages to travel to London just in time for the publication of her book, named above. This is the journal she kept while visiting London. It was interesting but it did not make me feel anything.
Indrani Sen
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
Loved the travelogue. If I can go to London I know now what I would be doing. This one is not as beautiful as 84, Charing Cross. But still a beautiful travelogue full of kind strangers.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is Helene Hanff’s companion memoir to 84 Charing Cross, an epistolary book about her twenty-year relationship with the London bookshop, Marks & Co. 84 Charing Cross, published in the US in 1970, is a tribute to Frank Doel, the buyer of rare books for whom she had great affection and who died unexpectedly in October 1969. A London publisher, Andre Deutsch, bought the memoir for publication in England following its instant success in the US and invited her to ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jane Reye
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed her account of the London trip. She'd dreamt of it so long! It was funny,sweet, and interesting. I wonder if she ever made it to London again? Didn't have the impact of 84 Charing Cross Road, but still a great read.
Jennifer B.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little follow-up to 84 Charing Cross Road, it chronicles the long-awaited trip to London by the author herself. Written as a diary, it's a rather candid look at her adventure in the UK, and offers a glimpse into a simpler England.

Fans of 84 will definitely appreciate the sequel.
Brandon Forsyth
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Had to stretch this out over several days - just didn't want to say goodbye to Helene Hanff and her witty, sardonic voice again. It's a bit different from 84, but still full of delight. A moving testament to how wonderful things - sometimes, lifelong dreams - can still happen to you late in life.
Elizabeth A
May 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Akanksha Chattopadhyay
Splendid. Enchanting. Marvelous.
Few works of nonfiction have moved me to emotion like this one did. To look at THE city through the eyes of an ardent lover of English literature strikes notes dear to the heart. Blame it on an EngLit student's incorrigible Anglophilia, or call it Colonial Hangover if you wish.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So fun! Don't read this without reading 84, Charing Cross Road first. And if you enjoyed 84, then don't miss Helene's diary of her trip to London.
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 ...more
Gorab Jain
Often happens that when you start liking a book, you love even the small fallacies it may have. Unfortunately the vice versa is also true :( And that's what happened with Bloomsbury.
After 84 Charing Cross, was looking for a similar fun filled joy ride in its sequel.... but it started disappointing right after the first 20 pages or so.
Wanted to like this one, or atleast not hate because of what 84CC did.... and because of favourable reviews of people whose ratings match with mine.
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed the story of Helene's long correspondence with the staff and families of a London bookshop in 84, Charing Cross Road I was interested to find out what happened next....
This book records in diary form, her much longed for visit to London, the friends she made, the places she discovers, and the amazing kindness she is shown.
I actually liked this second book a little was somehow much deeper and more satisfying, and a welcome rounding off for the first volume.
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.
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't that great a read compared to 84, Charing Cross Road, felt something amiss.
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sue Dix
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best travel journals that I have read. It helps to read 84 Charing Cross Road first for a bit of context and for a better appreciation of the significance of the author's visit to London. She writes so well and her descriptions of where she goes and what she sees are delicious.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Until Lizz mentioned it a few weeks ago, I was completely unaware this book existed; now, having read it in less than two days, it's a favorite. 84, Charing Cross Road was a favorite when Lizz first recommended it, but this may surpass even that in my personal estimation for one simple reason.

This book exactly captures what it felt like to be abroad in a city where you have longed for years--and I do mean years--to see. I didn't spend nearly so much time in London as Helene Hanff, but through
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think the follow up to '84, Charing Cross Road' could even compare to the delight that the first was. I was so very wrong about 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.'

I adored the letters of '84,' but loved the depth of 'Duchess." I think I smiled the entire read, laughed out loud many times, and was so sad for Helene when she had to fly home.

It's said that tv shows like 'Friends' are comfort food for the soul. (And I completely agree.) I consider '84' & 'Bloomsbury' the mac 'n' cheese
.5 | slow. witty. repetitive.

’i seem to be living in a state of deep hypnosis, every time i mail a postcard home i could use euphoria for a return address.’

this was definitely more of a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of experience. there were parts of this memoir i really enjoyed but most of it felt repetitive and dull and sluggish. once again though, i have no previous knowledge of helene’s work and i never read nonfiction so this book really just wasn’t my thing from the beginning.
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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
“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.” 39 likes
“History, as they say, is alive and well and living in London.” 17 likes
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