November 10, 2016

Looking Back - The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
Nonfiction - Memoir
1995 Moyer Bell (First published in 1973)
Finished in December 1996
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)

Publisher's Blurb:

When she’s invited to London for the English publication of her wildly successful book, 84 Charing Cross Road—in which she shares two decades of correspondence with Frank Doel, a British bookseller who became a dear friend—New York writer Helene Hanff is thrilled to realize a lifelong dream. The trip will be bittersweet, because she can’t help wishing Frank was still alive, but she’s determined to capture every moment of the journey.

Helene’s time in London exceeds her wildest expectations. She visits landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle; explores Shakespeare’s favorite pub, Dickens’s house, and the Oxford University courtyard where John Donne used to walk; and makes a host of new friends from all walks of life, who take her to the theater, introduce her to institutions like Harrod’s, and share with her their favorite corners of countryside.

A love letter to England and its literary heritage, written by a Manhattanite who isn’t afraid to speak her mind (or tell a British barman how to make a real American martini), The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is an endearing account of two wildly different worlds colliding; it’s an outsider’s witty, vibrant portrait of idiosyncratic British culture at its best, as well as a profound commentary about the written word’s power to sustain us, transport us, and unite us.

My Original Notes (1996):

Just as good as 84, Charing Cross Road. I would love to see it as a movie! A wonderful way to see London again [I had recently visited England]. Helene Hanff has a wonderful sense of humor. Both books would make a great gift set for anyone who loves England, books or romance! Should be read at least once a year.

My Current Thoughts:

Well, I must have loaned my copy out, because I can't locate it anywhere and I know I loved it. Darn it!

Highly recommend.


  1. I also loved The Duchess of Bloomsbury!
    We stay in Bloomsbury when we in London and I always think of Helene Hanff!

    1. Kay, I've only been to London once (back in the early 90s) and I would love to return for another visit! Such a wonderful city!


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