July 7, 2021

The Personal Librarian

"Is there a script one follows when engaging in peccadilloes?" ~ 48%

Almost every Bookheart is familiar with Belle de Costa Greene, personal librarian to J.P. Morgan. I have been intrigued with her story as a Black woman passing for white while tasked with curating the famous Pierpont Morgan Library. Oh, the secrets we keep to become powerful women!

Born Belle Marion Greener, daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard and advocate for equality. Her light complexion from alleged Portuguese heritage allows her to keep a dangerous secret. She passes as white to protect her family in a racist world and gain employment as a personal librarian. Her wit, charm and negotiation skills are soon well-respected in New York as she builds a collection of rare manuscripts, books and artwork for the Pierpont Morgan Library. 

"You don't have the luxury of making mistakes, Miss Greene." ~ 61%

'Tis is America. It did not matter that Belle's father was a successful intelligent Black man. She still had limited resources along with her siblings. It was Belle's mother's idea for a couple of her children to pass as white in order to get ahead in life.

To be so long (347 pages), it did not hold my attention during the second half. It seemed like less fiction, more biographical. And the rumored romantic entanglement was nipped in the bud quickly. Bookhearts, do you know the feeling of when you're reading a new story that is loosely based on truth then it becomes too historical-like? I don't know how else to describe but it somehow lost its appeal through the careful pacing. 

"With my fortune and your gifted eye and hard work, we are rescuing and protecting the most beautiful and important treasures that history has to offer—those artifacts and manuscripts that memorialize the physical history of the book." ~ 22%

Also Belle's career was portrayed as more of an art dealer/book negotiator than a librarian building an unparalleled collection simply for the sake of loving rare books. It started to become more of a competition than an appreciation of literature and art. Although, I understand the authors' intent and appreciate their collaboration even though it fell flat.

Happy Belated Pub Day, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray! The Personal Librarian is now available.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Personal Librarian
Authors: Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray 
Published: June 2021
Pages: 347
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤

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