Friday, January 5, 2018

Short Fiction Friday: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Today's pick isn't a true short fiction Friday - first, it's not fiction. Second it's a short read but not classified as a novella or short story. But it's such a heartwarming read and it is short.

Helene Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road was recommended to me by a librarian and writer I met at a conference last year. We spoke about the town the conference took place in - she was a wealth of information about things to do and see in my few hours of free time. And we spoke about my being a complete and utter anglophile and my desire to go back to England one of these days.

I received 84, Charing Cross Road from a fellow reader over on Litsy as part of the Hygge Swap earlier this year. She sent me a fantastic package with great books, English-y bookmarks, Earl Grey tea, a giant mug, a candle, socks, and hand warmers. All perfectly hygge!

As the year draws to an end, my frantic attempts to catch up and start the new year fresh and with a clean slate have really been getting to me and I've been reaching for short, easy reads that won't distract me from responsibilities. Which is why I picked up 84, Charing Cross Road one evening while my husband was out late.

The book is a collection of letters between the author and the now defunct Marks & Co used bookstore that stood at 84 Charing Cross Road in London. It begins on October 5, 1949 with Hanff's request for neat, used books she can afford on her budget. She prefers non fiction, requesting texts referenced and recommended by Sir Arthur Quiller-Coach (the subject of Hanff's Q's Legacy). And the store comes through for her time and again.

Through the years, Hanff becomes friends with the employees as well as their friends and families. This is thanks in part to the fact that Hanff sends the staff care packages full of items restricted in England due to rationing.

The bond Hanff and the employees, Frank Doel in particular, build is fabulous and comes through even when the time between the letters featured is long. And though Hanff didn't make it to England while the store was open, readers will delight in the fact that not only did she finally make the voyage overseas, but she wrote about it in The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.

84, Charing Cross Road is absolutely perfect for bookworms and anglophiles. It's also a great pick for anyone who needs a little pick me up and a reminder that there are good things in this world!

1 comment:

Kay said...

I read this book several years ago and completely agree that this is a little gem. Hope many will pick it up and read it. It doesn't take long.