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The Personal Librarian cover art

The Personal Librarian

By: Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Narrated by: Robin Miles
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Summary

The Instant New York Times Bestseller! A Good Morning America* Book Club Pick!

Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR! Named a Notable Book 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 bestselling authors Marie Benedict and 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 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.

©2020 Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“Historical fiction at its best.... The Personal Librarian spins a complex tale of deceit and allegiance as told through books.” (Good Morning America)

“Benedict, who is white, and Murray, who is African American, do a good job of depicting the tightrope Belle walked, and her internal conflict from both sides - wanting to adhere to her mother's wishes and move through the world as white even as she longed to show her father she was proud of her race. Like Belle and her employer, Benedict and Murray had almost instant chemistry, and as a result, the book's narrative is seamless...I became hooked.” (NPR)

“An extraordinary tale that is both brilliant historical fiction and an important and timely commentary on racism. By holding up an unflinching mirror and illuminating this little-known chapter in American history, these two gifted authors have penned a work that is a must-read.” (Pam Jenoff, New York Times best-selling author of The Woman with the Blue Star)

What listeners say about The Personal Librarian

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  • 06-05-24

Amazing book

Thank you dear authors. It’s written beautifully and I am going to read more on Belle and her life.

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Enlightening and magnificent!

The book was a bit slow in some parts, sometimes repetetive in it's narrative, but as a caucasian from a small European country, I don't know much about the segregation period in America and the struggles of african american people in that period, so it was very eye-opening and horrifying to know more about the life of black women in that period and I was awed with the strengh and tenacity of miss Belle da Costa Greene.

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personal librarian

amazing story best book ever ❤️ I hope they make a film about bells story

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banal rubbish

The main character seems to know everything, do everything well and be in the right place at the right time. very boring and predictable.

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