A few months ago Rossana from my book club asked us if we would join her to see 84 Charing Cross Road play in Cambridge Arts Theatre, she said she’s read the book and loved it and was very impressed.
I am glad I accepted this offer as I’ve had a fabulous night and loved the play. Interestingly, the play is a book by Helene Hanff. Written in 1970, 84, Charing Cross Road is a true story. It is the most heart warming one.
Helene is an author and she is a lover and collector of books. She lives in an apartment in Manhattan and is hungry for old books. She discovers Marks & Co Antiquarian bookshop in London, which obviously lives on 84 Charing Cross Rd(For those who don’t know London, Charing Cross Rd is full of bookshops!)
Helene starts writing to them and puts dollar bills into her letters, asks for books to be sent to her. The bookshop is polite and very British. They quickly develop a more-than-just-pen-pal friendship with Frank Doel- who is not the owner of the bookshop but kind of a manager there.
Helene is generous. when she first contacts the bookshop in 1949 USA is much richer than UK. She feels bad that people in the UK cannot access good things they love, such as ham or even nylon socks! She sometimes sends gifts to the people of the bookshop. All the people who work in the bookshop bonds with her and they keep askin: When are you coming to visit us? When?
Years follow each other and hard to believe, but true story, they keep these letters coming and going over 20 years. Isn’t that amazing. I mean, I shed a few tears in the end, but it was amazing. I am planning to read this book.
As a lover and collector of the books I loved this story, I felt the joy when Helene opened the post and held the book she wanted in her hands, I felt the excitement when Frank spoke about his travels around England to hunt the books of value. Also the cultural different and the natural humour between the Americans and the British adds a very nice flavour to the play.
The actors and actresses were amazing and Cambridge Arts theatre was good as always. I highly recommend this book and the play to anyone with a love of reading, you shouldn’t give this a miss!