20 July 2012

Book Review: 84 Charing Cross Road

Title: 84 Charing Cross Road
Author: Helene Hanff
Publisher/Year: Penguin / 1990 / 1970
Source/Format: Shelves / Print
Date Finished: 17 July 2012
Book # 35

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

The Short and Sweet of It
This collection of letters between Hanff and a used-book seller in London unveils a friendship that lasted 20 years.

A Bit of a Ramble
What a freaking ridiculously charming book! Seriously, I was hooked and would have read the short collection in one sitting if my baby nut would have let me. As it was, I had to take two sittings; although, I am now thinking this was actually a good thing as it gave me some time to process.

Hanff's quirky personality and Frank's blend of the personal and the professional really add life to their letters. Whether they were talking about books, family, or the odd tidbit, I was consistently interested in what they had to say. And they were just so....kind to each other. Helene doesn't just write to Frank, she writes to others in the office and to Frank's wife. She sends them food and gifts, and Frank's elderly neighbor embroidered a tablecloth for Helene.

This book brings up all those adjectives I very very rarely find myself using in book reviews: quaint, tender, charming, sweet, and lovely (and I don't mean a single one of those in the arrogant, elitist, sarcastic, insulting, holier-than-thou way they are typically used). This is a book that warms the heart and brings a smile to the reader's face.

If you have not yet read this one - which I am sure you have as I am the last blogger ever to read it - you should do so as soon as possible. It won't take you long to read, but it will stay with you long after.

NOTES: This counts towards my goal of Reading Books I Own and the subgoal under it, Classics Reading


  1. I keep thinking I want to read this and then I forget. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. This is one of my all-time favourite books so I always feel a flicker of anxiety when I click on a review... I'm relieved to find that you loved it as much as I did! It really is CHARMING. It left me with a proper old-fashioned warm and fuzzy glow, and it's a firm keeper on my bookshelves. If you haven't seen the film (with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins) I'd recommend that too; it's a little drier than the book, perhaps, but one of my favourites for a rainy Sunday afternoon with a big mug of tea!

  3. I read this one years ago, and thought the same thing that you did. It was lovely and charming and oh, just sweet. Great review today. I am glad that you loved it so much!

  4. LOVE THIS BOOK. And I actually loved the movie version, too!

  5. I was just SO taken with this book, and the fact that it was REAL!!!! OMG. For my review I actually wrote a letter to Hanff. Because I was gripped with so much I wish I could have said to her.

  6. Yes! This book is so charming, I can hardly stand it :)

  7. We read this one for book club and I know exactly what you mean. It really is just sweet and heart warming. I love that it isn't fiction either.

  8. Isn't this one just delightful! I've been meaning to read the sequel, but I haven't done it yet.

  9. This sounds marvelous! Adding it to the TBR now :)

  10. Guess you're not the last one to read it, I loved it as soon as I saw the cover, even before I read your review. Now I can't wait to read it. Thanks for that!

  11. I read this last year! all of the words you used (quaint, charming, lovely) are spot on. I adored this book.



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