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The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict
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The Personal Librarian (original 2021; edition 2022)

by Marie Benedict (Author), Victoria Christopher Murray (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3628311,784 (3.85)56
"The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan's personal librarian-who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray. In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. Pierpont Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white-her complexion is dark because she is African American. The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go-for the protection of her family and her legacy-to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives"--… (more)
Member:deepknit
Title:The Personal Librarian
Authors:Marie Benedict (Author)
Other authors:Victoria Christopher Murray (Author)
Info:Berkley (2022), Edition: Reprint, 352 pages
Collections:Untitled collection
Rating:***
Tags:None

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The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict (2021)

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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
DNF. I had such high hopes! But this book is less about books and more about makeovers, ballgowns, flirting, drinking champagne, jet-setting to glamorous locations, and illicit love affairs. I don't like romance or makeovers or any kind of chick lit, so I'm sad to say that I had to close this book unfinished. It was just too boring. I decided to read The Thirteenth Tale instead, which is much more up my alley. ( )
  Swift74 | Dec 1, 2022 |
VERY GOOD.A negro girl and her family, "crossed over" and make themselves appear white in early 1900's in America. As a white woman, nearly 1900's, she becomes the personal secretary of
J P Morgan. Very well written--I heard the Audio. interesting, historical ( )
  evatkaplan | Nov 23, 2022 |
DNF. I got to page 196 and couldn’t bear to read the other half of the book. I was bored out of my mind. ( )
  carlycolonna | Nov 15, 2022 |
In reading some reviews of this novel, I was quite surprised by people who found it "boring" or "slow". I was spellbound throughout the entire book. Having no idea about Morgan's "personal" librarian, I was intrigued by the events and history surrounding one of the most powerful men in the Gilded Age. More importantly, though, Belle held most of my interest, and I couldn't put the book down. I know the authors had to exercise some liberty in creating Belle's life, but most of their choices felt right, and I appreciated their comments at the end of the book explaining said choices. Belle would be one of my top 5 people I'd want to have dinner with--just to shake her hand and listen to whatever she'd want to share. Some reviewers saw Belle as more of a dealer than a librarian, but librarians purchase manuscripts and books for the libraries they work for, and in this case, when you are in charge of a private library (and one as renowned as this one was), that is one of the expectations of the position. Perhaps too much credit is given to Belle da Costa Greene (especially when supposedly convincing Jack to go public with the library), but I didn't care. That's what historical FICTION is. And I loved this book and was sad to see it end. ( )
  crabbyabbe | Nov 2, 2022 |
My book club (IWBC — Interesting Women Book Club 😉 ) generally reads biographical fiction. We chose The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray because we have enjoyed novels by Benedict before and the subject matter, Belle de Costa Greene, was intriguing. We mostly liked the book — it was well-written and researched, even if we didn’t always like main character Belle. Belle is notable for being a highly influential black woman in the the art world of the early 1900s. However, no one, except her immediate family, knew she was black. She passed in order to achieve her dreams. The increased prejudice, even in the North, kept people of color from jobs and schools. Belle’s mother’s family was influential in the black community of D.C., but her mother did not think that was enough to protect her family. Belle walked a tightrope in her professional and personal lives, always on guard in an effort for her secret not to be found out. An added burden was that her father, Richard Greener, was a well-respected civil rights activist who opposed her mother’s decision for the family to live as white. There is definitely a lot of tension in the book. Belle yearns to be herself, yet knows that she can never disclose the truth of her heritage. As I said we mostly liked the book, but Belle was a frustrating character making terrible decisions in her romantic life. Because it is a biographical novel, The Personal Librarian also provides interesting looks into the lives of other famous people, J.P. Morgan for one. The book is an eye-opener and did foster a great deal of discussion about the time Belle lived in, the years in which we grew up, and modern-day struggles. Identity is often a buzz word today, but The Personal Librarian was a good look into how identity can determine one’s future path. We learned a lot from the book, as well as the Google searches the book inspired. 😉 I believe all of us would recommend this novel.

Recommended. (This is a general market novel and has adult situations and language, but is generally a clean read.)

Audience: Adults.

(I listened to the audiobook I purchased through Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.) ( )
  vintagebeckie | Oct 24, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marie Benedictprimary authorall editionscalculated
Murray, Victoria Christophermain authorall editionsconfirmed
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For the two sides of Belle: Belle da Costa Greene and Belle Marion Greener
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The Old North bell tolls the hour, and I realize that I'll be late.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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"The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan's personal librarian-who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray. In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. Pierpont Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white-her complexion is dark because she is African American. The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go-for the protection of her family and her legacy-to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives"--

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In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white--her complexion is dark because she is African American.
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