The second IWAM Book Club meeting of 2023 took place on Wednesday the 15th of February at Major Tom. A group of four discussed Belle Greene, by French author Alexandra LaPierre. Continue reading for a review of this book.

The novel is based on the life of an ambitious young woman named Belle Greene, who later was named the first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City. Belle came from black parents, which during her time (the early 1900’s) meant that she had to identify as black, of course including all the consequences for a professional and social life of segregation from white people. Belle, however, chose to ‘pass’ as a white woman during the entirety of her career as a librarian, changing her name to Belle Da Costa Greene and subtracting several years from her actual age. 

Personally, I enjoyed reading this book about a forgotten woman from history. It has given me some insights about racism during that time and about the effects on society. An interesting aspect as well, was that in some parts there was overseas travelling involved, something that we now don’t think twice about, but back in that time was a very special undertaking. For my taste, the book focused a lot on Belles career and it would have elevated my 4-star rating to a 5-star one, if her personal life (including thoughts) was a little more included. 

Would I recommend this book to others?

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes to read historical novels, based on characters that have truly existed. 

What are we reading next time?

The next Book Club meeting is on Wednesday March 15th, where we will be discussing The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett. If you’d like to join the Book Club, please contact Sam or Elizabeth.