Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review - Helene Hanff's Letter from New York: BBC Woman's Hour Broadcasts

Letter from New York: BBC Woman's Hour Broadcasts by Helene Hanff
Published by: Moyer Bell
Publication Date: 1992
Format: Hardcover, 140 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
Out of Print

For six years Helene Hanff appeared on the BBC Woman's Hour in England. Once a month she recorded a five minute piece on her life in New York for the radio show for a country in her thrall ever since 84, Charing Cross Road. Written in a very conversational style to emulate the stories she'd tell her friends, the spot, which was to last six months, lasted far longer. This delightful collection compiles all extant copies she had and presents them in one wonderful book. Helene Hanff and I are polar opposites, in fact, I have a feeling that, were I to know her, I wouldn't much like her. But there's something about her writing style and her frank and humorous observances that I find totally compelling and a compulsive read. From the detailed lives of the dogs living in her building to her complicated cooking routines for the holidays, a rare feat for those living in studio apartments who need to rely on their neighbors counter tops as well as their own. I couldn't get enough and was saddened when it came to an end, of course I'm going to be even more dejected when I have to return this book to the library. Helene Hanff is the quintessential New Yorker, she loves everything her town has to offer, from the Park to the parades and she is able to convey this to her readers with such an easy air you feel like you're reading about a dear friend. If you ever see this book pick it up (I would then say, pass it along to me, but I have a feeling you will not want to part with it.)


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