Monday, June 20, 2011

Book #40: 84 Charing Cross Road

Procrastination is at an all time high so I figured I'd put it to good use and catch up on some book reviews. You can take one look at my 111 books in 2011 tab and you'll see what I mean, but better late than never right?!

I began reading Helene Hanff's book, 84 Charing Cross Road, earlier this year. It had been sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time, gathering dust, and to be completely honest, I actually don't even know how it got there. I only wish it hadn't taken me quite so long to pick up.

What a character she was! I was entertained by her, her writings, her thoughts, her antics, the whole way through, and I can only imagine that delight each of her letters bestowed upon its recipient across the Atlantic. I tend to shy away from books where characters, storylines and personalities are developing in letters because I find them to be too stop-start. There is often a lack of flow in this style and it annoys me. But 84 Charing Cross Road was quite different. And there was no stop start... instead I started, read through to the end, then stopped! I simply couldn't put this tribute to a real friendship, that had evolved via penpal correspondence, down.

However, I then came across a dilemma, because I hadn't realised 84 Charing Cross Road was only half the book. Upon getting to the end of the story, I was only halfway through and The Duchess of Bloomsbury confronted me. Would this count as a second book, or were they simply two stories in the one novel? I put them both aside for a while, but it wasn't long before I wanted to be intertwined in - and entertained by - the life of Helene again. 

The Duchess of Bloomsbury was just as enjoyable to read as 84 Charing Cross Road. Her descriptions of London made me homesick for the city, her tales of frustrating travel around the city I could sympathise with, and I just loved her openness and absolute enjoyment of the city. If you've lived, visited or experienced London then this is definitely worth a read.

And to complete the trifecta, I then watched the movie, 84 Charing Cross Road, starring a very young Anthony Hopkins, Judy Dench and Anne Bancroft. Superb!

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