I read 84, Charing Cross Road for my book club. The first sentence in its Amazon blurb calls it a "charming classic love story." Let me clear that up. This is not a love story unless you're talking about brotherly love or the love of friendship. There is no romance whatsoever. That being said, 84, Charing Cross Road IS charming.
This is a book I would label short and sweet. It took me about an hour to read it. It is a true correspondence between the author, Helene Hanff, in New York and several people involved with a bookshop, Marks & Co., in London. Ms. Hanff had a strong interest in antique and rare books, and the shop at 84, Charing Cross Road could supply them more easily than any store in America. The letters start just after the Second World War and span over twenty years. My favorite part is seeing how people were living after the war. In America, Ms. Hanff wasn't nearly as affected by it as her friends across the sea.
Reading this made me want to visit the shop...which is not anywhere near where I live, so I did what any normal millennial would do and looked it up on Google. I figured it wasn't the bookstore anymore, but I was still pretty disappointed to see what is there now. Sadly, 84, Charing Cross Road in London now houses a McDonalds. I mean, a lot changes in fifty years, but a McDonalds? This isn't even in America. It seems a waste of good historical property, but I guess that's life.
Don't let the unfortunate new resident distract you from reading this book. You should read it. It's short. Super short, guys. It's so delightfully human. These are real people who talk about their real lives. Friendship were made between people in entirely different situations. I really like this book.
It kind of says something about a book when the Kindle version of a book is unavailable, but you can borrow a digital copy here. It's essentially a library site, so you might have to wait to borrow it. But, hey, it's free. That's where I first read it. Another FYI: this isn't your normal ebook format. It's just each page of the book scanned in.
I don't usually like books that are written in letter form. Even the Guernsey book with the really long title wasn’t my favorite. It usually drives me crazy, and I wish for exposition. What made the difference in this case is that this is a true story. These letters are real. Real people wrote them to each other and forged life-long friendships through these letters. It's an intimate view into these people's personal lives. It's both fascinating and endearing.