It is rare that I re-visit books I have read in the past simply because there are so many new and interesting ones to read. However, there is a very small number that are worth re-reading every now and again, and 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is a particular favourite. This is a true story and one which is told through a series of letters flying backwards and forwards across the Atlantic between Miss Hanff and Messrs Marks and Co., sellers of rare and secondhand books, at 84 Charing Cross Road, London.
The story begins in October 1949 when Miss Hanff writes from New York to Marks & Co. enclosing a list of secondhand books that she would like to purchase, provided none is 'more than $5.00', as she is a 'poor writer'. Frank Doel responds, sending some of the requested volumes and with a promise to seek out the remainder. Therein begins an epistolary relationship that spans many years, drawing in Frank's family and other members of staff, but sadly Helene and Frank are destined never to meet.
This book is a sheer delight, and there is also a very enjoyable film adaptation starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.