I first came across Helene's books in a secondhand bookstore many years ago. What first attracted me to the book was in fact the cover...I know , never judge a book by the cover...but jeeze it was pretty cool. It looked like an airmail envelope and I was intrigued.Esp when I saw it was non fiction.
The Book Was "84 Charring Cross Road", and I was hooked. I got it for very little money which just made the experience even better.
I often find myself reading the odd page of a book when browsing in bookshops etc but this was the first time that I could have sat down right where I stood and continued to read. I did not even notice the people around me.
When I got home I put on the kettle and got down the hot chocolate and read , read, read.
I read it in one sitting.
The book is non fiction and I could not get enough of it. The idea of two people who had never met starting a friendship that lasted decades that began only because of a little add in a newspaper blew my mind!
Getting to know Helene and Frank was wonderful as I slowly flipped the pages taking each word in ,and being introduced to their sense of humours .
The book was often witty with many of Helene's sarcastic replies to Frank. Frank on the other hand was very dignified and came across as having a stiff upper lip but Helene could make that lip wobble.
There are many things that appeal to me about this book. The people mentioned obviously but it was more then that. The times they lived in with rationing on Frank's side of the pond and the difference between the British and American sense of humour was great to experience through their eyes.
Although they first were introduced to each other on a buisness level in reguards to buying books we slowly got to know each person and those close to them as well. Helene and Frank's close friends and family knew of the correspondence and understood the joy they each got from the letters they recieved from each other over the years. I always regret that they did not meet but what a wonderful friendship it was.
Getting to know New York through someone who lived and loved it was pure enjoyment.The first time I read this I was reading it as a teenager living in the countryside in Ireland and to my eyes it was glamarous and exciting. Helene was full of life, vivacious and with great sense of humour and there she was strutting around New York script reading/writing etc enjoying her life in a place that was very different to where I was. All I know is those streets of New York were lucky to have her.
Helene wrote a number of non fiction books. One of which talked purely about her love of New York and all the things that you should do if you visit there or even if you live there and want to experience the joy of what this wonderful city has to offer.Helene could see her own city as a visitor could ,and take as much enjoyment from it as someone else may do for the first time. Her ability to make you care about what she was writing about was contagious which is why I have multiples of alot of her books.
I have read many many books, well over a thousand at present and this one book remains such a joy to me even more so now than in recent years, and I read it time and again. I too have a pen pal in America and I write to him from this side of the pond. Our weekly letters to each other talking about books and our lifes and sending each other little gifts and books reminds me of Helene and Frank's friendship. We too have never met but share such a love for books that we never tire talking about them.
I hope some day that we will have something that Helene and Frank never did....... a chance to meet each other.
Maybe it will be in Florida, maybe Donegal who knows.... I keep my fingers crossed .
If I learned anything by this book 84 Charring Cross Road it was that friendship can span miles and oceans and last a lifetime.