84, Charing Cross Road

by Shawn Wang

Book Reviews


This is a book of letters. It contains a 20 year correspondence (1949-1969) between Helene Haff, an American freelance writer and Marks & Co., a book store on 84, Charing Cross Road at London. The author’s love for books and especially out-of-print books makes her respond to an ad placed by Marks & Co in a literary magazine. Her first letter requesting a set of books gets a prompt response from the book store and that’s how a 20 year correspondence starts.

These letters also capture the political milieu of the two countries around that time. In London, around 1950’s, the food was rationed out to 2 ounces of meat per family per week and one egg per person per month. Helen magnanimously sends a 6 pound ham from her savings and this simple act breaks the ice between the Marks & Co. staff and Helen.

With every letter going…

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