84, Charing Cross Road ; and, the Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff NO SPOILERS!!!
My edition of this book included two of Helene Hanff's writings – both 84 Charing Cross Road and also The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, which did not at all appeal to me as much as the former did. I am only reviewing 84 Charing Cross Road, and the stars awarded relate only to the former title.

The writing consists of letters between a young woman living in N.Y. and an antiquarian book-seller in London, of course on Charing Cross Road. The letters begin all proper and polite. Helene is looking for books that are so very hard to get a hold of. Soon she is friends with all the assorted employees of the small establishment. Soon she is sating exactly what she really thinks of particular authors and books and life in general. Soon she is helping them by sending food that is still rationed in London after WW2. Although the dialogue of both Helene and those with whom she corresponds changes and loosens up, the author does a magnificent job of retaining the personality of each character. What you experience is the growth of truefriendship! Now I usually do NOT like epistolary writing. For this reason I have repeatedly "put this book off", chosen instead to read another book. WHAT A MISTAKE! I can only thank many of my friends at GR for not letting me disregard this book!

What makes this book so wonderful is the prose; the style of writing is simply marvellous. And of course it is funny! Here is a quote from page 51:

"You'll be fascinated to learn (from me that hates novels) that I finally got around to Jane Austen and went out of my mind over Pride & Prejudice which I can't bring myself to take back to the library till you find me a copy of my own."

"Regards to Nora and the wage-slaves.

And here is another from page 54:

"Frankie, guess who came while you were away on vacation? SAM PEPYS! Please thank whoever mailed him for me, he came a week ago, stepped out of four pages….."
"He says to tell you he is overjoyed to be here, he was previously owned by a slob who never even bothered to cut the pages….."

I guess it isn't only me who feels the inadequacy of writing. Only through capitalizing words is it possible to show which words must be emphasized! Before we leave the subject of page-cutters (page 77).

"Did I tell you I finally found the perfect page-cutter? It's a pearl-handled fruit knife. My mother left me a dozen of them. I keep one in the pencil cup on my desk. Maybe I go with the wrong kind of people but i'm just not likely to have twelve guests all sitting around simultaneously eating fruit."

hh "

My Word Program is having a fit with Hanff's grammar…..

I am not going to quote any more. Take my word for it, this is very good, humorous read!!!