The Personal Librarian Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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The Instant New York Times Best Seller! A Good Morning America Book Club Pick!
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post
“Historical fiction at its best!”
A remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as White in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times best-selling authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray.
In her 20s, 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 in New York City society 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 create 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.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to - 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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|Listening Length||12 hours and 23 minutes|
|Author||Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 29, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #182 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in African American Literature
#1 in Biographical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#3 in Black & African American Women's Fiction (Books)
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You will want to know more about this extraordinary woman and how her story intersects with current events.
The Personal Librarian is an intriguing story of a woman who lived in America at the turn of the century. It is beautifully written. You will not want to put it down nor for it to end. Highly recommended.
The part of the book that starts falling apart for me is when it comes to the story aspect of this book. Once you get over how amazing Belle and her accomplishments are, it's like Then what happens? Things start getting very muddled in the middle, and the ending just doesn't hit the right note for me. If you are okay with a pretty slow story and not a lot happening after your initial amazement at a character's accomplishments, then this is the book for you.
When the novel ends one feels like they know Belle quite intimately, however the same cannot be said for Mr. Morgen. I am sure that J.P. Morgen gave up many things also. This book is a nice insight into the social barriers of the early 1900’s.
My only problem is that every page seemed to emphasize the obstacles she faced while pretending she was white. So much so that by 60% of the way through the book I was rather tired of it.
The book's premise is fascinating, especially since most people have never heard of Belle de Costa Greene. Alas, Belle does not earn our unalloyed sympathy. To her credit, she dutifully supports her mother and siblings financially. However, she also revels in her brilliance and ability to size up her competitors; enjoys showing off her glamorous wardrobe; flirts with powerful men to get her way; and has an affair with a man of questionable morals. Only later in life does Belle seek to redeem herself by engaging in philanthropic activities.
J. P. Morgan comes across as almost completely one-dimensional. He is a selfish man who is fiercely competitive and aggressive. His regard for Greene is largely dependent on her ability to procure for him the objects that he desires for his collection. In addition, there are passages that deal with the fight for women's suffrage, and Benedict and Murray stress that, in the early twentieth century, intolerant Americans regarded Jews and black people as second-class citizens. Unfortunately, instead of exploring these topics with a degree of subtlety, the authors drive them home in a heavy-handed manner. Its flaws notwithstanding, "The Personal Librarian" is an intriguing account of an extraordinarily talented and ambitious woman who helped transform Manhattan's Pierpont Morgan Library into a world-class cultural institution.