This is one of the books like the Dorothy Whipple, Barbara Comymns and Marghanita Laski which I thought I would only have to read review after review about. It was most unlikely that it would turn up at the library and certainly not in Sri Lanka. But, as I say often miracles do happen.
The book comprising a series of letters from Helene living in New York and described as a typical New Yorker to Marks & Company a very charming second hand bookshop in England.
The correspondence initially with Frank Doel who looked on Helene as part of his private correspondence goes on throughout the years of war and rationing to a more peaceful time and books going forth from England to America. The sums quoted for the books are unimaginable - 2 shillings getting Helene the best of what the bookshop can offer.
To anyone who loves English literature, history, architecture, its Kings and Queens, its colorful heritage - this book is a must. It is a trip which is nostalgic in the extreme. You need not have seen Westminister Abbey or Buckingham Palace or Hampton Court, Cambridge, Trinity or the numerous places finally visited by Helene, neither would your knowledge of Latin be necessary to appreciate the nuances of this very tender, heart warming story of individuals separated by an ocean and still finding great friendship and love (though not seeing each other for years and years) and sadly in Frank's case not at all as he dies before Helene can actually visit England.
The book is a small one of just 232 pages - and one you could easily slip into a handbag! Once started I couldnt put it down. It had to be done in one go. I am only sorry that Helene Hanff couldnt do something similar with a New York background.