An author and a gentleman

A review of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

When Citizen Reader bids her loyal readers to pick up anything related to Great Britain, I jump.  So after reading her recent review of Helene Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road, I clapped and squealed in happy aniticipation.

It's a lovely and charming wee book, a collection of letters that Hanff, an author, wrote to and received from a London bookshop over the course of several decades.  Mind you, this was back in the day before a gal could lounge in her jammies and buy used books from the comfort of her couch.  At first, Hanff's relationship with employee Frank Doel was all book business.  It quickly blossomed into a kinship, though, and not many months passed before Hanff had the entire staff of Marks & Company eating out of her witty hand.

Hanff thoughtfully mailed care packages of hard-to-get foodstuffs and nylons to the bookstore staff to supplement post-war rations.  Doel kept a perpetual eye out for volumes Hanff might love.  Hanff and Doel never met; they pestered her to visit, but Hanff always declined, as she either had no work and therefore no money, or had work and money but no time.

Has anyone seen the movie based on the book?  If so, how well does it stack up?


I finally read it this week. So satisfying! What should I read next?

Ooh, yes, I read An Uncommon Reader after you reviewed it here. So funny, and so nice to read about how books can sort of cast spells on people. I'm on the list for Guernsey and will check out the handy-dandy book list. Thanks!

Your review reminded me again how much I love this book and yes, the movie stacks up very well. Anne Bancroft is a perfect Helene and Anthony Hopkins is divine as Frank. Lovely in both formats.

Makes me wish it was available in Kindle format so that I'd have it always readily available.

Oh sure. Taunt the Kindle. I feel like we have had this discussion before, but I am a re-reader and this is one of my re-reads. I love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love it.

Imagine a love story built around two book-loving people.

I haven't read the book, but the movie (in my memory, anyway) was absolutely wonderful! Bancroft played the somewhat stereotypical, assertive American (single) woman and Hopkins was outstanding as the rather repressed English (married) man. It was a delightful surprise to find the movie so many years ago. (If you watch it, bring tissues!)

Another enthusiastic thumbs up for the movie. I have nothing further to add.

(And thanks for the nice shout-out.)

Of course I went and got the movie after I read the book, and it's great. It's a bit odd to see Hannibal Lecter playing a mild-manned bookseller, but he's great, and so is Anne Bancroft. I wondered how they were going to make it into a movie, and they did a really nice job, while keeping it close to the text. I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

And have you read The Duchess of Bloomsbury

Citizen Reader's suggestion of the book about Hanff's trip to London The Duchess of Bloomsbury is a good one. You might also try An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. This one is fictional but all about what happens when Queen Elizabeth takes up reading and begins to neglect her other duties. Charming and fun but also lots of bookie stuff. Another one more recently suggested is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

If you like the epistolary style of this one we have a book list here.

For other nonfiction suggestions maybe Citizen Reader will pop back in."