The Personal Librarian - Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray

The Personal Librarian

By Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray

  • Release Date: 2021-06-29
  • Genre: Fiction & Literature
Score: 4.5
From 1,757 Ratings


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.


  • Captures the imagination from a historical standpoint

    By jdjfsgjshfshtsusutsjtsjtsita
    This story sheds a light into the world of high society, art, travel and segregation in the 1900s. The secret of living as a white person afforded Belle a great life but cost her soul. A True but sad historical fiction that is intriguing. My view of the past is forever changed in a way that was needed! Great book you will not want to put down!
  • The Personal Librarian

    By Joanabake
    I loved this book. A true story of a remarkable woman who curated the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York at the turn of the 20th century, an African American who because of the racism in this country at the time, passed as white her whole life.
  • Loved a lot about this book

    By ssofty
    Great story that makes me want to know about Belle, JPMorgan, their amazing library and collections. And architecture. Loved learning about this wonderfully successful woman of color! Am Definitely going to read some non- fiction about this topic and these people. Some parts of the story felt simplified and repetitive…made me curious about why the story was told that way. I’m sure there was a reason.
  • Interesting subject, poor writing

    By Great Music Luvr
    This book reads like 99% exposition and 1% plot. Do not recommend
  • Personal Libraian

    By srormy1
    Wonderful history of JP Morgan through the eyes of his personal librarian. The struggle with racial bias in the book and how it drove a family apart. Very fast paced and a really good read!
  • Too didactic in tone; not my cup of tea!

    By FineMare
    Stopped reading after the abortion. Fascinated by the historical character, but the authors went a bit too far in the assumption that there was an unwanted child. The Belle of this book is far too haughty and self-absorbed. I’m reading the biography instead.
  • Beautifully written

    By Bigtexjohn
    I read this book after seeing it in the gift shop at the JPMorgan library in NYC. It was amazing to read the book and reflect on photos I took while visiting. Belle’s story is amazing and written so well, I thank Marie and Victoria for their work and passion poured into this masterpiece.
  • The Personal Librarian

    By hisfiction
    Well done! Informative and engaging. A little long-winded in parts
  • The Personal Librarian

    By stusan18
    A beautiful narrative giving a glimpse of history, the strength and struggles that not only formed foundations of our world and society but with issues that are relevant today.
  • Excellent Book! The more I learn about how horribly Black peoples

    By Faithful103
    Are treated here in America, the more I’m embarrassed to say I’m American.