Not quite as lovely as 84 Charing Cross, but charming in its own right. The first book is just a perfect little book that lives in its gaps. What we learn and what we know feel like gifts and the spaces between the years allow for life to continue on. That book was a series of letters between consummate New Yorker Helene Hanff who can’t get her hands on obscure and wonderful English books that she wants to read. So she begins a correspondence with a London book seller. Over the year they become friends, and she begins to know the other workers, their families, etc. She sends them goods they can’t get through rationing, and they send her books. It became a bestseller, and for the first time in her life, Helene Hanff, now in her 50s, can finally visit London.
This is her diaries of that trip. So the sparseness and the bursts from the first book are replaced with a lot more concentrated writing from Hanff. We learn quite a bit more about her as a person, with a life and a body. The book is still hilarious, sour, bright, charming, and tender at times too. She gets annoyed at being carted everywhere, but also so grateful for the opportunity. She’s got this weird kind of celebrity, while also being a smallish unassuming presence everywhere. Drinking little drinks and smoking constantly.