The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray | Audiobook Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray | Audiobook ReviewThe Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Narrator: Robin Miles
Length: 12 Hours 23 Minutes
Published by Penguin on September 6, 2021
Genres: Fiction / African American & Black / Women, Fiction / Biographical, Fiction / Historical / General
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

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

"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 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 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.

Why Did I Listen To The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray?

When it comes to audiobooks, one of my preferred genres is historical fiction. And so, The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray caught my eye. When I saw the audiobook was narrated by Robin Miles, I just had to give it a listen. Granted, it has been a while since I have listening to a book narrated by Miles, but I had such a good impression and opinion with regards to her narration. Also? The summary of The Personal Librarian sounded really interesting.

What’s The Story Here?

The Personal Librarian follows the real life story of Belle da Costa Greene. Greene is hired in her twenties to be a personal librarian to THE J.P. Morgan. She is tasked with finding different manuscripts and building Morgan’s collection. As it turns out, Belle is incredibly competent and good at her job. She takes society by storm and is the toast of the intelligentsia. And so, this book explores Belle’s life and meteoric rise – including a love affair that she has with a renowned critic. However, it turns out that Belle is hiding a pretty big secret. She was actually born Belle Marion Greener and is the daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard.

That’s right, Belle is white passing and so she decides to live as a white person and build her career on the perception that she has a Portuguese background. She is very protective of her secret. If it got out, it could send Belle’s life tumbling down around her.

What Did I Think Of The Personal Librarian?

I felt like this was a really thoughtful story. After listening to the audiobook, I actually ended up reading the wikipedia entry on Belle. This book is so interesting. The character development of Belle is very well done. I also enjoyed learning more about JP Morgan as well. Plus, there is the whole exploration of identity and privilege and gender and race. I can’t say if the representation is good or not — that’s not something I am qualified to talk about. I can say that this book made me think and the writing is so compelling.

How’s The Narration?

As mentioned above, the audiobook of The Personal Librarian is narrated by Robin Miles. She is quite excellent. The audiobook is 12 hours and 23 minutes long, but flies by. I was really invested in this audiobook. I think you should pick this up if you like historical fiction about real people who you might not know a whole lot about.


four-stars
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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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