Antof9's Reviews > Q's Legacy

Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff
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May 12, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011-read, about-books, americana, biographies-memoirs, charming, for-realz, funny, liberry, nonfiction, travel, made-me-cry
Read from May 29 to 31, 2011

I loved the dedication to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch - "Not to pay a debt but to acknowledge it." And I loved her connection to, and the parts about, "Q", as he was called by his students. But this is no "84", and once you get past the parts specifically about Q, it loses a bit of steam. It is, however, interesting to read about how "84" came about, how it was loved (or not), and how her royalties on the book compared to the cost of a stamp for the thank you note to a fan. But it doesn't even talk about the movie! It only gets as far as the plays, and that wasn't far enough for me.

In 2011, one of the things I liked best was the idea of her "relationship" with Q ... which also reminds me of her "relationship" with Frank Doel. These make me think of some of my online friends, who are as dear to me as "real" people (some more so), and how the fact that I may or may not have met them in real life is totally irrelevant.

As ever, I am in love with Ms. Hanff's love of books. In describing how she came to do all of her shopping with Marks & Co. overseas, she describes how they are better than the volumes in Chaucer Head's window -- "old, mellow loeather-bound books with thick cream-colored pages, but not so opulently fine as to make me feel guilty if I underlined a phrase here (in pencil) or made a margin note there when I felt like it. They didn't have the look of rare or fine books, they looked like the friends I needed them to be."

The description of her friend "Gene" going through the U.S. citizenship process was possibly the best part of the whole book. Funny and poignant, and well-told. It's more meaningful to me because my Polish sister-in-law has her citizenship interview this week, I suppose. But it also captures my favorite thing about going through customs on return to the U.S.: "You won't believe it, but the high point came after I landed at JFK. It was mobbed and I was annoyed, I was tired and I had to stand on a long line at the Immigration desk. We inched along and finally I got to the desk and put my new passport on it, and the man behind the desk looked at it and stamped it. Then he pushed it back to me and said: 'Welcome home." And I had tears in my eyes."

I did, too. I love when they say, "welcome home."

Back to the book thing: "She walked in and headed straight for the bookshelves, which won my heart. Few visitors do that."

There are comments she throws out that make me think she'd have been a great blogger. Or at least that I'd like to have been her friend:
"If he can't get you on that," said Sheila tranquilly, "he'll fly you Concorde."

So then of course I prayed the B.A. flight would be sold out. But God doesn't hear greedy prayers and Sheila phoned back a day later to say I was booked on B.A.'s 10 a.m. flight for Wednesday, November 18.


Recommended for anyone who loved "84, Charing Cross Road". If you haven't read that, read it first. Then you'll enjoy this too.
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11/04/2016 marked as: read

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