The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

For him, I was the daughter and son he’d never had, the confidant he’d always sought, the business and art partner who’d boldly advocated for his goals, and the lover he’d dreamed about but held in abeyance. For me, he was the father I’d lost, the companion with whom I could discuss the day’s minutiae, the business mentor who’d supported me beyond my wildest dreams, and the lover for whom is longed but could never have. (p. 248)

I had to break away from my reading of Japanese literature, and books for the Nordic Finds, to complete this month’s Book Club choice: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. I quickly found myself immersed in the story of Belle de Costa Greene, who was the extraordinary librarian for J. P. Morgan in the early 1900’s.

Her courage, strength, and intellectual ability are inspiring, as we learn of the way she gained Mr. Morgan’s complete respect. He gave her great financial allowances to bid for the books he wanted at auction.

Belle perfected the ability to “hide in plain sight,” as she sought to present herself as a White woman in a highly prejudiced society. Yet, she was not the only one with secrets. Anne, J. P. Morgan’s daughter, was involved in a “Boston marriage” with another woman.

This book is a perfect choice for Book Clubs, as it includes a myriad of topics: race, feminism, adultery, friendship, and the very powerful relationship between an extremely wealthy man who needed this extremely intelligent and brave librarian.

8 thoughts on “The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray”

  1. My book group is discussing this novel on Thursday. I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting, so I haven’t read the book, but I have read one other by this author (The Other Einstein).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lesley, I think this book ticks all the boxes for current times: feminism, sexuality, race issues…the only thing that kept me the slightest bit interest was that she really lived, and I liked learning about her intelligence and relationship with J. P. Morgan. I hope your group liked it more than I did.😌


    1. Meredith, I chatted with one of my friends and she said the group liked the history of her life, but thought the writing was somewhat light/simplistic. I felt that way about The Other Einstein. I going to skip it.

      In other news, I am reading Love and Saffron by Kim Fay, which is fabulous! It reminds me a bit of 84, Charing Cross Road. Have you read it?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think describing the writing as simplistic is very apt. Wish I could be in the group with you!

    I have not read 84, Charing Cross Road, which I’ve always meant to do! I obtained a copy of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox at your suggestion, and now I will look for Love and Saffron. I enjoy the books you do very much.❤️


    1. Oh, I hope you read 84, Charing Cross Road sometime soon. It is such a wonderful little book. You could read it in a day! Hope you enjoy the other two books, as well. I just finished Love and Saffron and thought it was marvelous.


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