84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This was a book I knew nothing about but was recommended by several people on LibraryThing. It’s a collection of letters between the author in New York and a second-hand book shop based at 84 Charing Cross Road. It’s really short, so this review is too, but it’s perfect Sunday afternoon reading – witty and gentle, and it gives you a healthy dose of the warm fuzzies. The backbone is that Helene Hanff requests books and they are sent to her as and when the shop acquires them but there’s so much personality in the letters, and they obviously captured the imagination of the staff.

The edition I read also included The Duchess of Bloomsbury, a diary about the author’s long-awaited trip to London after the publication of 84 Charing Cross Road. This is also a lovely, gentle read, and makes me think I should finally organise that tourist trip to London (I’ve been so many times but rarely see more than the inside of a conference centre). I preferred the letters, but the whole book was very good and I’ll be looking out for her other books.

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