84 Charing Cross Road (Virago modern classics)

by Helene Hanff | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 1860498507 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingCandyDarlingwing of Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on 9/13/2010
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingCandyDarlingwing from Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Monday, September 13, 2010
84, Charing Cross Road was first published in Great Britain in 1971, and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street in 1974.

Review from Amazon.co.uk:
Anyone who loves books will love the story of this vibrant New York lady's passion for collecting them, told in alternating letters of correspondence between the struggling author and a British antiquarian seller who supplied by mail the treasured secondhand books she could barely afford to buy. An amazing true story spanning twenty years, it was made into a memorable and moving film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, and is available on video and dvd.
This volume also includes the companion book The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, a diary Ms Hanff kept when she visited London for the first time; but not until the original book had made her famous and she was able to afford the dream trip she had longed for. Sadly, Ms Hanff passed away recently, but her story will live on forever in the letters that touched the hearts of thousands.

Journal Entry 2 by wingCandyDarlingwing at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Monday, September 13, 2010
I absolutely loved this book! It's one of my all time favorite books. Here's the review I wrote on October 31, 2004:

A book consisting of letters might seem a bit weird at first, but I was instantly hooked. One reason why the letters are so touching is probably that they were written by real people. But what makes this book a really enjoyable read is the author's strange sense of humor, and the genuine caring evident in the letters. The first letter is dated October 5, 1949, and the last is from October 1969, so that's 20 years of correspondence. Reading about the books Helene Hanff ordered from Marks & Co. made me want to read classics too. One weird thing I enjoyed was reading about the food Helene Hanff sent to her friends in the U.K. It's funny how much the world has changed in fifty years. When the book ended I cried harder than I've cried in years when reading a book.

The Duchess of Bloombury Street is written in the form of a diary, and it's just as charming as 84, Charing Cross Road. Reading the book made me desperately want to visit London again. The London described in the book was pretty different from the London I know, but still it was similar too. Next time I visit London I'll have to trace Helene's steps. When I visit The British Museum I'll have to check out the Kenilworth hotel where she lived. Unfortunately Marks & Co. closed in 1970, but there's a used record store, Covent Garden Records, where the book shop used to be. When the book ended I felt the same way I always feel when I have to return home after a wonderful holiday abroad.

Journal Entry 3 by wingCandyDarlingwing at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Monday, September 13, 2010
84 Charing Cross Road just gets better every time you read it - after 2004 I read it another time in 2006 when I visited London (I even sat for a while in Russel Park reading the book), and most recently I read it in August 2010 when we stayed at the Kenilworth hotel in London. :) Helene Hanff has been an immense influence on my trips to London, and my love for her books and the city just keeps on growing.

Every time I read 84 Charing Cross Road I get the urge to read the books Helene mentions (like Selected Essays by William Hazlitt and On the Art of Writing by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch). Here is a list of them. One book, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, can be read online, with helpful links that explain the people and places mentioned, and include even links to Google Maps! I wish there was a similar version of The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. ;)

I loved The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street already the first time I read it, but I have to say the better I know London, the more I enjoy it. (Which I couldn't imagine was possible, I already enjoyed it so much the first time.) Many places are mentioned only in passing, but some stand out. Now that I know London better, I enjoy even the brief mentions. London 40 years ago was also pretty different from today, but on the other hand, some things haven't changed. (Like Helene Hanff said when somebody told her she came to London 15 years too late - "15 years too late for what, the Westminster Abbey?".) :) I enjoy reading about a very different London experience, I certainly haven't been chauffeured around town nor had dinner with famous people, but I have walked the same squares and seen the same sights. Thanks to Helene, I enjoy seeing them more than I would have otherwise. She has the talent to make history come alive in her stories of the people and places of London.

Here are a couple of links to the places mentioned in The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street:
Radisson Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel
Bedford Square
Russell Square
50 Wimpole Street where Robert Browning courted Elizabeth Barrett
Devonshire St & Harley Street
Park Crescent ("Nash Crescent")
Marlborough House
Shakespeare's Globe
Syon House and Osterley Park
Highgate, where Nora and Sheila lived
St. James Square, Jermyn St., Carlton Gardens (Sunday, July 4)

Journal Entry 4 by wingCandyDarlingwing at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Friday, October 01, 2010

Released 8 yrs ago (10/1/2010 UTC) at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

I gave this book to my friend to read. I hope you'll enjoy it!

Journal Entry 5 by koodaaja at Espoo, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Sunday, October 03, 2010
Received from CandyDarling. She insists that I read this before our trip to London.

Journal Entry 6 by koodaaja at Espoo, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Monday, October 18, 2010
Very nice. The letters are so well written that it doesn't really matter whether their substance is of interest to the reader. All the people presented in the letters are extremely nice and likeable. This is great "feel good" reading.

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street worked well as sort of an appendix to the letters. Helene's description of various places in London is vivid and was made especially interesting by having my own first visit to London in the near future.

Journal Entry 7 by koodaaja at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, October 22, 2010

Released 8 yrs ago (10/22/2010 UTC) at London, Greater London United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Giving this one back to CandyDarling.

Journal Entry 8 by wingCandyDarlingwing at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, October 22, 2010
Got the book back, will release it today near 84, Charing Cross Road.

Released 8 yrs ago (10/22/2010 UTC) at Charing Cross Road in Charing Cross, Greater London United Kingdom

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Releasing this book at Cambridge Circus, near 84, Charing Cross Road, inside a phone booth next to the Palace Theatre (look closely at the picture to the left and you can see the book inside the phone booth).

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