There are thousands and thousands of books about New York. There are memoirs and biographies set in New York where the location plays a key role. There are walking tour guides. There are general histories.
And then there’s Helene Hanff’s Apple of My Eye, a book that combines all three into a delightfully charming depiction of New York, with a strong sense of place and time. It was written in the 1970’s, but instead of feeling tired and dated, it feels like a wonderful glimpse into the past.
Helene Hanff is one of my favorite authors, and if you’ve read 84, Charing Cross Road, this one has a similar tone, although the subject matter is quite different.
Even if you’ve never been to New York, if you like learning about new places, or enjoy memoirs, this has enough of a memoir feel to it that it’s a fun pick. It’s also a slim volume, so no worries about making a huge reading commitment. If you’ve visited most of the tourist destinations in the city, many of the details may be familiar for you, but her personal approach and stories are still appealing.
Warning though, it just might make you teary.
A celebration of her life-long love for New York, Hanff embarked on this project as an assignment, and realized she had not been to many of the main tourist attractions- the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the World Trade Center. As make-believe tourists, off she and Patsy travel to describe the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant’s Tomb, Fraunces Tavern, some of New York’s very special small museums, Orchard Street, a tour of Harlem, and much more. Hanff weaves in historical events and tidbits on some of New York’s most notorious personalities.
Title: Apple of My Eye
Author: Helene Hanff
My Rating: 5 Stars
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