©1970 Helene Hanff; (P)2007 Hachette Audio
"The twenty year correspondence between bookseller Frank Doel, who worked at Marks & Co, specialists in rare and second-hand books, and Helene Hanff, an impoverished New York writer with an irresistible urge to buy books, made joyous reading when it first appeared in 1970 and this unabridged recording of 84 Charing Cross Road makes pleasant listening." (The Express)
"Human kindness is wonderfully to the fore in this little classic of autobiography, and the combined readings of Juliet Stevenson and John Nettles characterise the writers exquisitely." (The Times)
"One of the subtlest, sharpest, most moving relationships ever formed between pen pals. I can't imagine it without Stevenson and Nettles. Her warmth, his reticence, their shared love of old books - onionskin pages, leather-bound and gold-embossed, with flyleaf dedications circa 1847 and pencilled notes in the margin - made me weep."(The Guardian)
Loved this almost from the start. I thought the reading of the addresses every couple of minutes was annoying at first and if I was reading it would have skipped looking at the address but as it went on it was almost rhythmic and I grew to love it as part of the overall experience. The performance by Juliet and John was excellent and added so much to the enjoyment of the book. I loved researching more about the story once I had finished. What wonderful kind people they were.
I read the book when it was first published and absolutely love this audible edition. I was unable to listen to this book in public places, as tears kept welling in my eyes, especially at the kindness this woman showed for people she didn't know on the other side of the world. At the end of the book the producer stated that when he asked the actors to read this book, their response was the quickest and most enthusiastic he had ever had from anyone for any book. I think that says it all.
Wonderful book and beautifullynatrated. A joy to listen to. Whatever am I going to read or listen to next?
"Truth Stranger than Fiction"
A story told entirely in letters charting the relationship between two people who never meet. It is a cliche, but 84 Charing Cross Road is heartwarming, tender, funny and tragic. The relationship that develops between Helene Hanff (a spiky, impoverished New York writer) and Frank Doel (a conventional, formal English bookseller) is told through their correspondence as HH tries to obtain rare and obscure titles from the eponynous bookshop. That it is a true story told through the actual correspondence between the two makes it tremendously affecting.
The story is beautifully read by Juliet Stevenson and John Nettles - brilliant casting - and the whole unabridged reading lasts barely 2 hours which just goes to show that the best things really do come in small packages.
"Love by mail"
What a wonderful story. It was like waiting on the doorstep for the next letter to arrive. You could almost imagine rows and rows of books in a tiny shop. It was a love story yet, it wasn't. It was a lovely story.
"Quintessentially English and bursting with charm."
I really enjoyed this book! The description of London around the war time period and the incredibly English characters are a joy to imagine. I could see the bookshop and smell the books. This book gave a real insight into rationing and the joy of exchanging letters, (a dying art). Totally recommended!
"An utter joy!"
I laughed out loud and then wept on the train - and that's saying something.
"Short but Sweet"
This is such a lovely book and a great recording. Only a couple of hours long but it is still worth downloading. This accompanied me on a long run and I was smiling through most of it.
Really enjoyed this book - lovely true story - great book to listen to at bedtime.
Truly amazing! Loved it so very much. I would highly recommend this super classic. Wonderfully read and produced. Five stars!
"It was a joy to listen to"
An unexpected friendship
No, I haven't heard them reading anything else but they were both excellent in this so I will look out for their other work
It made me smile, it was beautiful.
This is among my all time favourites
"Charming, poignant, witty and totally satisfying"
The atmosphere. It was beautifully conveyed by the two narrators, who handled the 10+ voices superbly. I was transported to the side of every one.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, partly because of the format but also because of the similar effect it had of drawing me to each character. But I think 84 Charing Cross Road is better.
All the ones in which Helene flew off the handle and sent tantrum letters to Frank. He never rose to the bait - perfect English gentleman! - but you could hear the twinkle in his voice.
I wouldn't, partly because there is already a film that I have yet to watch, but mainly because I can't see how a film could possibly add to the magic of the voices.
It's a beautifully written true story, very engaging and really really interesting. Especially to book lovers! Please listen to it, you won't be disappointed.
"Fact beats fiction"
I am inclined to agree with Helene that a good true story beats fiction every time. This one is brilliantly done. I have not seen the film but would be surprised if it is a good, I suspect it has been jazzed up in the way that movies tend to. Juliet Stevenson and John Nettles do a brilliant job of bringing the characters back to life from the pages of their letters.
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