I first heard about this book many months ago on the Blog:Musings From A Bookmammal and sold on the fact that this was an epistolary novel written by a booklover.
A delightful book, 84 Charing Cross Road is a book entirely made up of letters detailing the correspondence that spanned twenty years between Helene Hanff and the booksellers Messers Marks & Co.
Starting in 1949 Helene from New York, wrote to the booksellers requesting a list of books, having found their details in a newspaper and Frank Doel responds with his finds three weeks later. As the correspondence deepens Helene Hanff’s humour and kindness shine through and soon other members of staff and their families are also writing and receiving their own personal responses. Booklovers will enjoy tracking the non-fiction titles Helene demands with varying levels of urgency.
It has to be said not a great deal happens in this very slim tome but Helene Hanff manages to give the reader a little slice of social history, especially detailing the ongoing rationing in the early 1950’s. The writing style is what carries his book along.
In The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street the reader gets to hear all the details of her long-awaited trip to London which followed the publication of 84 Charing Cross Road. A delightful addition where the author is courted by both those she corresponded with and her newer fans. Written in the form of a journal of her stay her humour is even more pronounced.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this one and I’d like to thank Bookmammal for the recommendation.