Book Reviews

Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff

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List Price: £1.95


Paperback: 138 Pages.

Published: 07 August 1986 by Sphere

Edition: New Ed

ISBN: 0708830021

EAN: 9780708830024

This is the remarkable story of how Helene Hanff came to write 84, Charing Cross Road, and of all the things its success has brought her. Hanff recalls her serendipitous discovery of a volume of lectures by a Cambridge don, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. She devoured Q’s book, and, wanting to read all the books he recommended, began to order them from a small store in London, at 84, Charing Cross Road. Thus began a correspondence that became an enormously popular book, play and television production, and that finally led to the trip to England – and a visit to Q’s study – that she recounts here. In this exuberant memoir, Hanff pays her debt to her mentor and shares her joyous adventures with her many fans.


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

Reaping success

Once upon a time (just after WW2) a woman called Helene Hanff, living in New York and wanting to be a writer, started a correspondence with a bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London. She was looking for good copies of old books which she couldn’t get in America and she also had a love affair with literary England. Eventually these letters were published as “84 Charing Cross Road” a book I first read in my teens and have loved ever since.

In “Q’s Legacy” the author tells the story briefly of how she started her serious reading in English Literature by buying and absorbing the essays of Sir Arthur Quiller Couch (known as Q to his students at Cambridge) and following his recommendations and references – it is the books that she needs to follow his line of study that she gets from London. After the publication of her successful book she has a BBC TV production made of the story and a play and attracts a lot of enthusiastic fans all of whom want to show her their London.

The book is a series of anecdotes held together with the idea that everything that happens to the author is as a result of having originally read Q’s essays and that what success she has had is his legacy. It’s amusing and entertaining, especially if you have read “84 Charing Cross Road” – and if you haven’t I definitely recommend it.

Helene is a woman of strong views and great affections but the tone of this memoir is light and it is a very quick read. I own all this author’s books, which are memoirs of her life on the edges of showbusiness and the literary world and are written in a deceptively easy to read style.

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