Thursday, April 07, 2011

84, Charing Cross Road

Helene Hanff and I don't have the same taste in books, but I can totally see myself in her book-shopping shoes. I also see myself making friends with a bookstore staff in post-war London and shipping them tasty treats and other small luxuries at Christmastime.


84, Charing Cross Road is the result of twenty years of Hanff's correspondence with Marks & Co. Booksellers. Reading this slim memoir from a vantage point of more than 60 years onward, the prices made me smile. Hanff has a taste for the old and rare, and she sends Marks & Co. a five dollar bill and gets a stack of books so ancient that Dickens and Thackeray probably used them for booster seats when they were children and somehow, she ends up with two bucks credited to her account.

The most enjoyable parts of the book are her feisty letters to the company. No matter how obnoxious or strident she gets, she always gets a gentlemanly response from the patient manager, Frank Doel. I’m more than ready to treat myself to another viewing of the 1987 movie version starring Anne Bancroft as Hanff and Anthony Hopkins as Doel.


Care said...

I love your posts! You have me grinning with the bit about booster seats. Thank you. I'm smiling.

jenclair said...

How I loved this book!

Mystica said...

I too loved this book.

Avid Reader said...

I loved this one. I felt like I was eavesdropping on their wonderful correspondence.

Thomas at My Porch said...

Although I love this book to pieces, I agree about her tastes in literature. A little too serious for me. And the movie is such a treat.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

The movie is one of my favorites. I have yet to read the book. One day.