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The Personal Librarian (2021)

de Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2,4851296,057 (3.82)87
"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"--… (més)
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» Mira també 87 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 128 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The life of Bell da Costa Greene (nee' Belle Greener) is important to the history of our nation. That being said, this book should have been written as a nonfiction biography. Readers will know up front that they are reading to learn something. Yes, the novel can instruct, but as biographical fiction, there were several problems. First of all, there really wasn't a "story" here. The plot was her life. It was BORING in many parts...I love books, but the characters were buying books and art and the conflict was about who could outbid other collectors. (Who cares?!)
Novels can also get into the heart and soul of the characters. I never felt that in this story. She is rather flat as a character. Belle lamented about having to be white in the public, but "colored" when she came home and laid her head down on her pillow. We know this because she states it but, we, as readers, don't get deep enough into her interior life to feel her experience. The romance in the book was slightly more interesting, but her vacillating about her love interest's despicable behavior doesn't seem to be in line with her character's personality- a strong, educated and business savvy career woman who can read a room and use her people skills to out- maneuver social and business competitors.
What really made this book painful to read was that the authors created stilted dialogues between characters written to "instruct" the readers on art, racial issues, history, and feminism. I skimmed most of these lectures/monologues. Overall, I found it a chore to read. I only completed it because it was a selection for my book club. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
An entertaining and unobjectionable fictionalization of the true story of Belle da Costa Greene, the respected and celebrated librarian responsible for helping JP Morgan assemble his formidable library in turn-of-the-century New York - who was, in fact, Belle Greener, a black woman passing as white.

I'm always intrigued by the choices that authors make when fictionalizing historical personages. Authors Benedict and Murray have chosen perhaps the safest path, characterizing Greener as bold but not too bold (she's saucy but knows better than to offend her mentor), passionate but not too passionate, paranoid about being discovered but not so paranoid that she takes drastic precautions, such as disowning her family. Not that I'm dinging their choices. There's nothing here that feels offputtingly anachronistic, and Greene's struggle to reconcile the radical ideals of her father with the conservative rationalizations of her mother authentically represents both sides of the issue. Just saying that other authors might have crafted this into quite a different story ... something more nuanced and complex, but probably also harder to market.

And there's more here to enjoy than Greene's story. The authors have incorporated an exploration of the considerations involved in assembling & curating a large collection, insights into the history of rare manuscripts, and an opportunity to gape at the excesses of the uber-wealthy (the "red party" that Greene attends is particularly outrageous). All this was enough for me to forgive the relatively pedestrian writing style, shallow characterizations, and lackluster dialog.

While Benedict and Murray may have chosen a relatively safe and conservative interpretation of the historical facts, at least they've shaped them into an entertaining and informative read. ( )
  Dorritt | Apr 4, 2024 |
This biographical novel was about the little-known Belle da Costa Greene, the "personal librarian" of wealthy financier J. P. Morgan and curator of his originally-private library/museum.  Greene was born Belle Marion Greener in 1879 to African-American parents, but changed her name to aid in passing as white.  The "da Costa" was to indicate a Portuguese heritage as an explanation for a darker complexion.  Her mother and all her siblings also changed their surname to Greene, to separate themselves from their estranged husband/father, Richard Greener, a racial justice advocate, so they could all pass as white.

As I've noted in other reviews of her work, I'm not particularly fond of Marie Benedict's writing style, and this book (like the others of hers I've read) was overly long and detailed.  And yet, I continue to read her books, because she chooses interesting, little-known women to write about.  She did have a co-author for this one,  African-American Victoria Christopher Murray, which was a plus.  I also appreciate their sharing of the sources they used in the post-novel historical note. ( )
  riofriotex | Mar 31, 2024 |
Two authors wrote this historical novel, and it feels like it. Chapters vary wildly from one to the next and all too many of them have historical facts awkwardly shoved in, as if to prove that they did their research. Although there was a compelling figure behind this novel, the book itself is not compelling. ( )
  AnaraGuard | Mar 13, 2024 |
A fascinating novel woven around the facts of the life of a woman in early 20th century America as she grew up living the life of a white female but she and her family being of coloured background. Her achievements in gaining an education and subsequently becoming the librarian of a private collection of art and historical manuscripts owned by wealth businessman J.P. Morgan was very well written with the two authors exploring her challenges, dreams and achievements across the decades. ( )
  ElizabethCromb | Feb 6, 2024 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 128 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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.
afegit per Dariah | editaBookreporter.com
 
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.
afegit per Dariah | editaThe Nerd Daily
 
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.
afegit per Dariah | editaBooklist (starred review)
 
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.
afegit per Dariah | editaPublishers Weekly
 
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.
afegit per Dariah | editaLibrary Journal (starred review)
 

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Marie Benedictautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Murray, Victoria Christopherautor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat
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For the two sides of Belle: Belle da Costa Greene and Belle Marion Greener
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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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