Tuesday, September 27, 2016

84, Charing Cross Road

A collection of letters between Helene Hanff and the staff of Marks & Co., London booksellers, 84, Charing Cross Road is completely charming. Miss Hanff lived in a New York brownstone writing television scripts, children's books, and magazine articles. She could not be troubled to walk to an American bookstore for a mediocre edition of any of the eclectic books on her list for research or pleasure. Thus began the letters (and gifts) to Marks & Co. in 1949, lasting two decades.

One gets to know people well through letters. I should know; my husband and I corresponded through snail mail for months before we met. The letters in this delightful book are gentle reminders of a more mannered time, when people could carry out long-distance friendships with more than a hashtag or Facebook post. There was less chance of being misunderstood; more chance of that friendship lasting a lifetime.

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