84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

“I remember years ago a guy I knew told me that people going to England find exactly what they go looking for. I said I’d go looking for the England of English literature, and he nodded and said: ‘It’s there.’” ~p91

Possibly one of the first books I read when I arrived in London last year. A sort of impulse pick from the library not long after passing The Charing Cross Road in person. The book is divided into two parts, 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. I found the first part about the twenty years correspondence between Helene Hanff (US) and Frank Doel (UK) post World War II to be mildly enjoyable and relatively short, while I didn’t quite finish the second part where Helene Hanff finally visited London in the 70s. Surprising considering I was probably as excited as her to visit London for the first time. But the book was left untouched for a while so I finally returned it to the library. Who knows, I might go back to it someday for more insights about London in the 70s. (3.5/5)

The movie (1987) for me was reminiscence of Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day with his controlled performance and old fashioned style. Helene Hanff was played by Anne Bancroft, who already looks and sounds old in 84 Charing Cross Road, but omg, looks so pretty when she was young! And I just realized that she played the girl’s mother in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman. (7/10)

I went back to Charing Cross Road again purposely to find the plaque that marked the Mark & co bookshop that was said to be there, but I could not find it, even after going back and forth and checked the road across the street like what the internet says. I can’t find any picture on the net too so I don’t know if it is true that there is a plaque. Have any of you seen it? Where is it??

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