Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
I haven’t done a Retro Friday in the past couple of weeks and thought it would be a good idea to feature this book. I wouldn’t have found out about 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff if my good friend Michelle didn’t review it recently. I’m glad she decided to review it because it would’ve been a shame to miss this charming little book.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.
84, Charing Cross Road is a very absorbing, quick read. I wasn’t planning to read the whole thing and just wanted to see the first few pages but then it sucked me in. Since it’s a slim novel, I knew it would only take one sitting for me to finish it so I went ahead and did just that. This a non-fiction book that focuses on the correspondence of Helene, a writer in New York and Frank, a book seller in London. A friendship that spans years develops between the two through their letters. At first, Helene only wrote to Frank but eventually she exchanges letters with his co-workers and even his wife. Helene is hilarious and it was fun to read about a non-fiction book for a change. I was afraid that I wouldn’t like Helene because I’m not even familiar with the books that she buys but I could really relate when she goes WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? I HAVE NOTHING TO READ NOW! I think all of us have felt like that at one point or another. Also, I found it funny when she said that she can order books from the convenience of her typewriter so she doesn’t bother going to bookstores anymore. Oh Helene, I wonder what you’ll think of online bookstores now. It’s so much easier to order books from sites that have free worldwide shipping.
I believe that this book is something that every book lover would appreciate. It’s a wonderful example of how friendships form even when people are thousands of kilometers apart just because they share one common thing that I’m sure we can all understand: a love for books. ♥ It’s certainly something that I’ve experienced because I feel like I’ve gained so many book friends because of this blog and yet I’ve never met them in person. Snail mail letters have been replaced by emails, interaction through blog comments and Twitter. Like I said, it’s much more convenient with the technology that we have now but still very similar to Helene’s situation. Although I’m delighted whenever I get a postcard or a letter in the mail. I’m actually thinking of getting this set of Puffin postcards so I can send them out to bookish friends.
This book has made me curious about the 1987 movie version and I hope I can find a copy soon. I’m sure Anthony Hopkins did an excellent job in that role.