Having worked in a used bookstore for many years, I had been aware of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff for a long time. For whatever reason, I had never taken the time to really look at the book. I am so happy I've read it now! This is such a sweet story, told through a collection of letters, spanning 20 years. The letters begin with an American woman writing a secondhand bookstore in London in 1949. She is searching for a few hard to find books, and would prefer used copies rather than brand new editions. Voyeuristically, we witness how the correspondence changes through the years. There are two main ideas I'm left with after reading this book. One, the kindness of strangers is a powerful thing. And two, physical books, especially secondhand copies, connect people on so many levels, and enrich our lives in an entirely unique way. Read this book, and if at all possible, pick up a used copy.
This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world. "84, Charing Cross Road will beguile and put you in tune with mankind... It will provide an emollient for the spirit and sheath for the exposed nerve." -- The New York Times "A unique, throat-lumping, side-splitting treasure." -- San Francisco Examiner