I am so excited to be sharing this book with you guys today. Not only does it have a historical element that includes a library, but I think the social commentary will give readers so much to sink their teeth into! This book features the story of Belle da Costa Greene who works for J.P. Morgan collecting rare books.
While she might pass as ‘white’ she is actually the daughter of Harvard’s first black graduate. She keeps her identity secret and the book explores her life as well as the struggles she faced as a person of color in the 1920s. I am so excited for this one and the only thing I am sad about is that my review calendar is full for June otherwise I would be reading it now!
If you love untold stories with a lot to unpack I think this is going to be a great book for you to pick up. When I read the description my other thought was it would be a good fit for book clubs too considering some of the content. No doubt historical fiction fans have already had this one on their radar for some time now and with good cause! Early reviews are strong and overwhelmingly positive, it’s coming out a little later this month so be sure to check this one out!
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. 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.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths to which 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. (summary from Goodreads)