84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff | Book Review

This a little uplifting book recommendation from my side for anyone in need of magical and cosy stories.

“84 Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff provides one of these pleasant reading experiences. It is a true story written by real life events; this tale is both life-affirming and sad but still a real treat for all the bibliophiles.

This gem consists of letters written between an American writer, Helene Hanff and a British bookseller, Frank Doel and other employees of Marks & Co Bookshop in London which was based in Charing Cross Road. Their correspondence overspanned the period of twenty years, between 1949 and 1968.  Sadly, Frank died in 1968 without ever having an opportunity to meet Helene in person.

This little book is about developing a long-distance friendship between two people by the means of letters. Over two decades, they had exchanged gifts, recipes, ideas on books and current world events. What started as an inquiry about one book that Helene was unable to find in New York City, it turned into a magical relationship between two unique souls connected by their love for words and stories.

There is not much of an action in this books, you just have to read it and enjoy it.

Following Frank’s death, Helene finally visited London in 1971. At that time Marks & Co Bookshop was already closed (it was closed in 1970). Today there is a plaque on the building in which Marks & Co Bookshop was once based. These days the building is occupied by a well-known fast food restaurant and there is no trace of the bookshop.

I would highly recommend this book and the movie under the same title starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. They both complement each other, and it is a great idea to first read a book followed by the movie. If you are unable to get a copy of the book, then try to watch a movie which is very moving and reflects the idea of the book beautifully.

“84 Charing Cross Road” is a compelling story which will warm your heart and will give your soul a ‘necessary touch of magic’ so desperately needed in current times.

If you enjoy 84 Charing Cross Road, I would also highly recommend you A Bookshop in Algiers by Kaouther Adimi

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