Title: The Personal Librarian
Authors: Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray
Genre: Historical Fiction
Plot: Belle Marion Greener has moved to New York City with her mother and siblings in the early 1900’s. She’s trying to look for a job for her to help support her family. Belle is colored but has lighter skin. She can pass as white. Her mother’s idea is to say they have a grandmother who lives in and is from Portugal to explain the color of their skin. Belle changes her name to Belle da Costa Greene. It’s a great risk but it gets her a personal librarian job for J.P. Morgan. Mr. Morgan is collecting rare and ancient manuscripts and art. Belle’s been hired to organize and manage it all. After she learns Mr. Morgan’s been paying too much for his art and manuscripts, Belle offers to negotiate better prices at auctions and private sales on his behalf. Mr. Morgan agrees. Over the years, Belle turns the library is one of the greatest ever. But she’s always on guard for someone to discover her secret. Can she keep up with this double life? Or will someone find out that she’s colored and use it against her?
Rating: 4.0 – a good historical fiction
Opinion: This was a great book. I enjoyed learning about life during the early twentieth century for black people. I always knew at the back of my mind that life’s always been more difficult, but not that extent. It was interesting to learn that some black people passed as white in order to ‘cheat the system,’ in a way. I understand that why they did it and why it could’ve felt like a betrayal to their friends and families. While this was a great book and I learned a lot, I feel like there wasn’t a ton of plot. It was just Belle’s life story telling of the more interesting parts of her life with J.P. Morgan and his library. I enjoyed learning more about the different societies in the early 1900’s. This is a great book for anyone who loves historical fiction.