Letter from New York
Over several years, Helene Hanff read aloud these stories of her life in New York for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. This book is a collection of selected scripts from this series, composed with a British audience in mind, in which the author offers us a glimpse into her own everyday tales of the city. Written in her trademark whimsical and upbeat style, Helene Hanff transports us right to the heart of Manhattan in the 1980s, describing her favourite places, people and pets with gentle humour, and introducing the reader to the ups and downs of life in a high-rise apartment building in New York City ("the last small town in America").
We are introduced to Bentley, the Old English Sheepdog belonging to a neighbour who captured the author's heart; we take a stroll through the beautiful Shakespeare's Garden in Central Park; and we join the author to enjoy annual city parades down Fifth Avenue - especially the St Patrick's Day parade, when the whole of New York turned green. And we meet Helene's friends: Arlene, whose glamorous social life - and wardrobe - puts Hanff's tiny apartment and simple writer's life into perspective, and Nina, whose garden on the sixteenth-floor overflows with flowers and fruit trees. Finally, we accompany the author as she travels to London to celebrate the opening night of the dramatisation of her best-selling book 84, Charing Cross Road.
What started out as a six-month trial in 1978 eventually turned into a six-year project, during which time Helene Hanff captivated radio audiences with her monthly broadcasts - each one a love letter to her beloved NYC. Long before the cast of Friends - and Sarah Jessica Parker's iconic evocation of life in the city - recreated a New York existence for us to experience vicariously, these 5-minute vignettes were the perfect way for native New Yorkers and international readers alike, to revel in the quotidian as well as the glamour of city life, and to discover the unexpected hidden gems - and treasured traditions - of New York City. Letter from New York is still a delight to read, 40 years after it was first written - a timeless and beguiling tale of everyday life in this great city, by one of the best-loved authors of the 20th-century.
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