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Becoming Belle

(2018)
A novel by

 
 
A witty and inherently feminist novel about passion and marriage, based on a true story of an unstoppable woman ahead of her time in Victorian London.

In 1887, Isabel Bilton is the eldest of three daughters of a middle-class military family, growing up in a small garrison town. By 1891 she is the Countess of Clancarty, dubbed "the peasant countess" by the press, and a member of the Irish aristocracy. Becoming Belle is the story of the four years in between, of Belle's rapid ascent and the people that tried to tear her down.

With only her talent, charm, and determination, Isabel moves to London alone at age nineteen, changes her name to Belle, and takes the city by storm, facing unthinkable hardships as she rises to fame. A true bohemian and the star of a dancing double act she performs with her sister, she reigns over The Empire Theatre and The Corinthian Club, where only select society entertains. It is there she falls passionately in love with William, Viscount Dunlo, a young aristocrat. For Belle, her marriage to William is a dream come true, but his ruthless father makes clear he'll stop at nothing to keep her in her place.

Reimagined by a novelist at the height of her powers, Belle is an unforgettable woman. Set against an absorbing portrait of Victorian London, hers is a timeless rags-to-riches story a la Becky Sharpe.

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"Nuala O'Connor has the thrilling ability to step back nimbly and enter the deep dance of time. This is a hidden history laid luminously before us of an exultant Anglo-Irish woman navigating the dark shoals and the bright fields of a life." - Sebastian Barry

"O'Connor has a genius for finding the universal and unifying life essence of seemingly diverse women as they nurture their deepest sensibilities and draw upon their enduring strength. ... O'Connor's rendering of a now little-known nineteenth-century music hall dancer in Becoming Belle is thrillingly dramatic and achingly moving and profoundly resonant into this present era." - Robert Olen Butler

"Becoming Belle is so mesmerizing you will be distraught when it ends and you remember that she lives no more. O'Connor has resurrected a fiery, inexorable woman who rewrites the script on a stage supposedly ruled by men. Sensual, witty, daring, and unapologetically forward, Belle Bilton and her cohorts will dance on in your mind long after the curtains fall." - Lisa Carey

"Masterful storytelling! I was putty in Nuala O'Connor's hands. She made the unsinkable Belle Bilton and her down-to-earth sister Flo real to me, and brought 1880's London to my living room. Encore! Encore!" - Lynn Cullen

"A glorious novel in which Belle Bilton and 19th century London are brought roaring to life with exquisite period detail." - Hazel Gaynor

"Thoroughly engrossing and entertaining read. O'Connor's meticulous attention to period detail and scrutiny of the upper classes and their shallow lives [is] reminiscent of Edith Wharton at her very best. It also makes us question whether women have ever really escaped from the censorious judgement of Victorian times." - Liz Nugent

"O'Connor gently unfolds Belle's tale in a manner that is compelling and disarming. The ambience may be Victorian elegance but the sheer honesty of O'Connor's writing is sensual, authentic and earthy. A delight!" - Rose Servitova


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Used availability for Nuala O'Connor's Becoming Belle

Hardback Editions

November 2018 : USA Library Binding
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Title: Becoming Belle (Thorndike Press Large Print Historical Fiction)
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
ISBN: 1-4328-5465-8 / 978-1-4328-5465-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Thorndike Press Large Print
Availability: Amazon   Amazon AU   


August 2018 : USA Hardback
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Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
ISBN: 0-7352-1440-9 / 978-0-7352-1440-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

June 2019 : UK Paperback
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Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
ISBN: 0-349-42126-9 / 978-0-349-42126-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Piatkus
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


September 2018 : UK Paperback
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Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
ISBN: 0-349-42125-0 / 978-0-349-42125-4 (UK edition)
Publisher: Piatkus
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


August 2018 : USA Paperback
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Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
ISBN: 0-7352-3350-0 / 978-0-7352-3350-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


Audio Editions

June 2019 : USA Audio edition
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Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
Availability: Amazon   


June 2019 : Australia Audio edition
thumb

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
Availability: Amazon AU   


June 2019 : UK Audio edition
thumb

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
Availability: Amazon UK   


April 2019 : UK Audio CD

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
ISBN: 1-78771-434-9 / 978-1-78771-434-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Oakhill Publishing Limited
Availability: Amazon UK   


August 2018 : USA Audio edition
thumb

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon   


August 2018 : UK Audio edition
thumb

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

August 2018 : USA Kindle edition
thumb

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Availability: Amazon   


August 2018 : Canada Kindle edition
thumb

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Availability: Amazon CA   


August 2018 : Australia, UK Kindle edition
thumb

Title: Becoming Belle
Author(s): Nuala O'Connor
Publisher: Piatkus
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU