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The Personal Librarian (original 2021; edition 2022)
by Marie Benedict (Author)
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict (2021)
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I enjoyed the book. I knew little of JP Morgan and nothing of Belle. I found it interesting if a bit unbelievable at times. The romantic interludes left me uninterested but the interactions beatween Belle and Morgan was well done. ( )
Based on the life of Belle Acosta Greene, J P Morgan's secretary/archivist in the first half of the 20th century. The story realistically portrays the issues of systemic racism in securing employment and a livelihood. This fictionalized account moves at a good pace. Because Belle lived such a secretive life, many of the situations are speculations of the author, but are believable enough.
One comes away from the story wondering if J P Morgan was aware of Belle's secret, but valued her skills so much that he was willing to look the other way.
Overly effusive writing. DNF.
True story of the personal librarian of JP Morgan and her secret that she was colored
What I would classify as both historical and biographical fiction, The Personal Librarian was an energetic fast moving story. Little nuggets of the past are given like the length of JP Morgan's boat and a staff of 70 to man it. Then the unthinkable struggles a woman would face by willingly leaving her race to become, most importantly, the financial head of her family while being barely an adult herself. I most certainly was glued to this story.
Both a stunning tribute to an amazingly courageous woman and a searingly timely exploration of race relations in America, The Personal Librarian is an extraordinary novel that will have you frantically googling the key figures to learn more. I won’t be ready to part with Belle and her contemporaries for a long time after finishing this one.
Kept me intrigued, fascinated, and mesmerized throughout….Everyone should know about the woman who took risks, carved her own path, silenced the naysayers, and forged ahead to becoming one of America’s most prominent librarians in history. Definitely a must-read.
Every element of this blockbuster historical novel is compelling and revelatory, beginning with the bedazzling protagonist based with awestruck care on Belle da Costa Greene… a novel of enthralling drama, humor, sensuality, and insight. … [a] resounding tale of a brilliant and resilient woman defying sexism, classism, and racism during the brutality of Jim Crow. Benedict and Murray do splendidly right by Belle in this captivating and profoundly enlightening portrayal.
A powerful take on the accomplishments of J.P. Morgan’s librarian…. Benedict and Murray do a great job capturing Belle’s passion and tenacity as she carves a place for herself in a racist male-dominated society. This does fine justice to a remarkable historical figure.
This fictional account of Greene’s life feels authentic; the authors bring to life not only Belle but all those around her. An excellent piece of historical fiction that many readers will find hard to put down.
"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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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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