The year 1949 marks the beginning of the twenty year unconventional and long distance love affair between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. Straightforward Helene is an aspiring New York based writer who works as a script editor. She is a voracious reader, especially of non-fiction. Frank is the efficient and knowledgeable head clerk at Marks & Co., a second-hand bookstore located at 84 Charing Cross Road in London. Unable to find the out of print books she wants at New York bookstores without having to pay an arm and a leg which she can't afford, she writes to Marks & Co. hoping they can fill her order at reasonable prices. Frank and the bookstore staff are able to provide Helene most of what she wants at more than reasonable prices including shipping. As such, she provides them with standing orders for more and more books. But as time goes on, their correspondence not only deals with Helene's orders, but what is happening in their lives and in the world around them, Frank's which includes his loving marriage to his wife Nora and their two children. Helene dreams one day of being able to travel to London herself to meet Frank and the other Marks & Co. staff, the people who have been able to fulfill a great need in her life.