book cover of The Personal Librarian
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The Personal Librarian

(2021)
A novel by

 
 
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.

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"From the moment I picked up The Personal Librarian, I was in awe of Belle da Costa Greene. My heart went out as she navigated the life she lived and the one she hid…. Belle’s story couldn’t come at a more fitting time as our country faces a united path forward." - ReShonda Tate Billingsley

"An intimate and extraordinary conversation with the past. As Belle da Costa Greene achieves her dreams by forsaking an identity, we wonder if we would or could do the same to irrevocably alter the literary world and our family. A novel abundant with culture, art, literature, and romance—the beauty and recklessness of love are revealed with astonishing clarity." - Patti Callahan

"As richly depicted as the lush world of art and literature Belle da Costa Greene presided over…an immersive, sweeping delight as well as an intimate, moving, and powerful portrait of Belle's personal and professional life. An unforgettable, captivating read!" - Chanel Cleeton

"A marvel of a story. This unflinching look at one woman’s meteoric rise through New York’s high society is enthralling, lyrical, and rife with danger. Belle’s painful secret and her inspiring courage will capture – and break – your heart. Serious kudos to Benedict and Murray for bringing this true story to life." - Fiona Davis

"The Personal Librarian illuminates the extraordinary life of an exceptional, intelligent woman who had to make the impossible choice to live as an imposter or sacrifice everything she’d achieved and deserved. That Belle denied her true identity in order to protect herself and her family from racial persecution speaks not only to her times but also to ours, a hundred years later. All that glitters is not gold. This is a compelling and important story." - Therese Anne Fowler

"Meticulously researched, heartbreaking, and inspiring…a fascinating look at a very public figure fighting a deep private battle, whose story still resonates with surprising power and immediacy today." - Kristin Harmel

"An untold story that is simply amazing. It's timely and impactful." - Brenda Jackson

"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

"A stunning and timely novel about a woman who, in forging a path for herself, had to battle constantly against the limitations society tried to place upon her due to her gender – and who also had to hide her true identity from a racist world...both a triumph and a fitting tribute to Belle’s courage, her fierce desire to protect her family and her personal struggle to be both the woman she was, and the woman she was not allowed to be." - Natasha Lester

"Upon starting this novel, be prepared to do nothing else until you’ve reached its poignant, reflective end. Through brilliant pacing and with painstaking care, Benedict and Murray paint a vibrant portrait of a woman whose accomplishments, relationships, and secretive history were as complex and intriguing as the collections she helped curate…a timely, provocative read perfect for book clubs. I loved it." - Kristina McMorris

"From the opulent gilded age ballrooms of New York, to the fiercely competitive auction houses of Europe, The Personal Librarian is a poignant story of race, class and one woman’s struggle to live authentically." - Renée Rosen


Similar books by other authors


Used availability for Marie Benedict's The Personal Librarian

Hardback Editions

June 2021 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
ISBN: 0-593-10153-7 / 978-0-593-10153-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Berkley
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

June 2022 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
ISBN: 0-593-10154-5 / 978-0-593-10154-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Berkley
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


September 2021 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
ISBN: 0-593-43703-9 / 978-0-593-43703-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Berkley
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


January 1900 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Personal Librarian (Random House Large Print)
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
ISBN: 0-593-41424-1 / 978-0-593-41424-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Audio Editions

June 2021 : USA Audio CD
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Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
ISBN: 0-593-50152-7 / 978-0-593-50152-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2021 : USA Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon   


June 2021 : Australia Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon AU   


June 2021 : Canada Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon CA   


June 2021 : UK Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

June 2021 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition
thumb

Title: The Personal Librarian
Author(s): Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Publisher: Berkley
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU