Anne's Reviews > 84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
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Oct 08, 2007

really liked it

I was introduced to this book many years ago as a child. I remember just loving it. It is a collection of letters from the late 50s through the 70s between the author, Helene - a writer in New York, and Frank Dole - an antiquarian bookseller. Helene begins in search of rare titles, which Dole doggedly tracks down for her. As their correspondence continues, an interesting friendship develops. Helene sends packages to the bookstore, to be shared by the other workers there. And eventually, she begins to correspond, not only with Frank, but with his co-workers and even his wife. This book is quite short. It's so strange, because my recollection is that it was so much longer -- I'm not sure if it's because I read more slowly when I was younger, or if it's because I loved it so much that I imagined it lasted forever. Helene can be a bit infuriating, but her letters are funny and charming and contain discussions of the most obscure books. The idea that people could come to life through letters and develop a relationship without ever meeting each other is so wonderful to me. Now with the internet, I guess this is a much more common phenomenon than it used to be, but thinking about these letters traveling by post overseas is almost magical. The book has since been turned into a BBC broadcast, developed for the stage, and become a movie staring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft.
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