In my email today, in honor of the London Olympics, ABE Books (used books site) sent a newsletter featuring “A Literary Tour of London“. It ended with “What books are missing from this list?” Carol S. from West Sussex responded, “84 Charing Cross Road” — that had me DASHING to my closet, where the bulk of my paperbacks are kept, in order to dig it out.
I devoured it.
Chuckled over parts.
Wished I, too, had book-people.
Want to see London (though NOT in Olympic Chaos).
Will probably continue on with its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.
And now I want to share
Some bits I especially
were wonderfully touching
and written for book-lovers and London-lovers:
- “Will your please translate your prices hereafter? I don’t add too well in plain American, I haven’t a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.”
- “I have implicit faith in the U.S. Airmail and His Majesty’s Postal Service.”
- “I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to ‘I hate to read new books,’ and I hollered ‘Comrade!’ to whoever owned it before me.”
- “you leave me sitting here writing long margin notes in library books that don’t belong to me, some day they’ll find out i did it and take my library card away.”
- “I just never saw a book so beautiful. I feel vaguely guilty about owning it.”
- “P.S. Have you got Sam Pepys’ diary over there?”
and too many more… including that Helene went out of her mind over Pride and Prejudice.
From the 1950s austerity to the Beatles hysteria – this slim volume has it all. As Helene says, “Write me about London — the tube, the Inns of Court, Mayfair, the corner where the Globe Theatre stood, anything. I’m not fussy.”
We’ll leave 84, Charing Cross Road with this description by Maxine: “It’s dim inside, you smell the shop before you see it, it’s a lovely smell…” and these parting words from Frank: “it’s an old edition…, not very handsome but well bound and a good clean copy, and we are sending it off to you today with invoice enclosed.”