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

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.


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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.

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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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