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The Personal Librarian

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
June 2021
12 hours 23 minutes
The Instant New York Times Bestseller! A Good Morning America* Book Club Pick!

Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR! Named a Notable Book of the Year by the Washington Post!

“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 authors Marie Benedict and 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.
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Eve M.

A true insite to the secret lives of those who had to cross race barriers to achieve what their color prevented at the the time! You could not have made up a more amazing story if it was fiction!!! Belle daCosta Greene was an amazing human, black or white, male or female. Furthermore, set during the Guilded Age of the United States oppulence, there are strong lessons about the subtleties of race relations and all other prejudices at that time. One can live in those historical times through the voice of Belle and truly understand the socio-economic and cultural history of the time. Delightful, important, must read. Well done.

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Monica D.

love it! I didn't know I would like a book like this until I started listening.

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Jaccquie R.

Really enjoyed this. Learned about someone I knew nothing about but should have. Of course much is fiction but it's based on truth. Loved the author's notes too. Prompted some research on my part the help my understanding of who the people were,knowing names but matching faces and facts.

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Adrienne R.

An excellent read with a historic insight to the Guilded Age period of time.

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Loved this historic novel - amazing accomplishments !!!

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Sherry R.

First and foremost the story was absolutely wonderful. I do favor historical fiction in my audio book selection and this would rate as a story in my top 10. That being said, I have listened to over 400 audiobooks in the last 10 years and this is only one of two books that I think would have been better as an actual read as opposed to audio. The narrator was stiff and reserved and her narration felt like it never got comfortable. It did not flow, nor capture me emotionally. This is just my opinion and I have never rated any of the books I have listened to, but felt pretty strongly about this one based on the story.

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I loved this book. It has inspired me to plan a trip to New York City to visit the library.

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Shawna S.

I am not a historical fiction reader. It was a book picked for the book club I am a part of. But despite my usual disinterest in this genre, this book was actually very good. Well written, intriguing, and gave a nice insight into being a black woman during that Era. I enjoyed this book far more than I anticipated and would recommend it highly, especially to a historical fiction lover, but even to those who are not. It's worth the read.

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Born in New Orleans I grew up hearing my family using the slang pasablanc (passing for white) because there were lots of Creole people who had very white skin. However they would have been classified as colored and just like Belle’s family, many Creole’s did pass for white for the same reason…opportunities! I remember my mom saying that some of my maternal grandmothers family were pasablanc. It’s terrible that people had to deny their heritage because of the unjust laws in this country towards people of color. I enjoyed this book and never knew about this accomplished woman and her part of in the making of one of the most wealthiest families in U S history. Another reminder of how “Colored” people played significant roles in US history but, never received the credit and acknowledgment of their contributions. Thanks to the authors and their research for this wonderfully written book and history lesson too.

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Jeanette F.

This was by far the best book I have listened to in the past year

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Great historical novel

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Sivan B.

A great read/listen. Definitely a character from history I did not know about and am so glad I now do. A very interesting story, well told, and expertly narrated. I try to reserve 5 stars for only the very best books I read, and this was not that. But highly recommended. I would have liked for the author's notes or historical notes to have told me what became of Belle's legacy. When the truth about her was discovered and how it was received. How and when she came to be lifted up for who she was, instead of persecuted for it.

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Hilda J.

I loved this book! I have recommended it to several friends. I love an entertaining book that is also educational.

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Shar V.

ladies, that was an outstanding book! i didn't want it to end. i had no idea how historically correct this was, making the read even more amazing. and the fact you're bff's now makes it even better. i loved every 'page'. here's to ending racism!

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Well narrated . Strong and fairly accurate historical novel

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Very interesting read

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Bobbi A.

This book was fascinating and so very well written. Thank you!

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I enjoyed the historical aspect of the book, but disliked the fiction which they created around this character.

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