New York in the 1900s. A young girl fascinated by rare books defies all odds and becomes the director of one of the country’s most prestigious private libraries belonging to the magnate J. P. Morgan, one of the city’s richest men.
Flamboyant, brilliant, beautiful, Belle da Costa Greene is among New York society’s most sought after intellectuals. She also hides a secret. Although she looks white, she is African American, the daughter of a famous black activist who sees her desire to hide her origins as a betrayal. Torn between history’s ineluctable imperatives and the freedom to belong to the society of her choosing, Belle’s drama, which plays out in a violently racist America, is one that resonates forcefully, and illuminatingly even today.
Based on the true story of Belle da Costa Greene, this is a richly imagined and extensively researched novel that is bursting with atmosphere, lush period detail, and unforgettable characters. It recounts the struggles, victories, and heartbreaks of a woman who is free, astonishingly determined, daring, and fully, exuberantly alive.
Alexandra Lapierre is a bestselling French novelist, short story writer and biographer. She graduated from Sorbonne University and the University of Southern California. Among her works that bring back to life great women and characters neglected by history, is the international bestseller Artemisia (Vintage, 2012). Her books have been published in more than twenty countries.