© Princeton Art Museum : Belle da Costa Greene par Clarence H. white, circa 1911, dans une toilette inspirée de la collection de Paul Poiret.
Image fond : © Princeton Art Museum
Belle Greene

• synopsis

New York in the early 1900. A young woman, with no money nor connections, is fascinated by old books and rare manuscripts. Against all odds, she manages to climb up the social ladder and becomes the creator – the first and only lady directress - of the fabulous Morgan Library, built by the tycoon J.P Morgan in New York. Thanks to her wits, her knowledge, her intelligence and her beauty, she conquers the rich and greedy circles of collectors and is toasted as the most powerful woman in the international art world of museums and libraries in Europe and the US.
JP Morgan himself is impressed by this clever, fast and audacious young woman. He allows her to build up an incredible private art collection at the Morgan Library. Henceforth, Belle travels to Europe, from Great-Britain to France and Italy where she hunts treasures for the Morgan Library and becomes the queen of the many art worlds. She starts a passionate lifelong love affair with the formidable historian and great art collector Bernard Berenson. The name of this great seductress and amazing lady? For her many admirers, for her many lovers, she is the famous Belle Greene.
Yet her name, her age, her place of birth - everything is fake. Her past is a fabrication. All her persona is a lie. She is hiding a terrible secret which, in a violently segregationist America, could send her hanging from a tree. Belle may seem White. In truth, she is African-American, and not allowed to walk in the same room or drink the same water as her fellow scholars. In those years, the law — “the One-Drop Rule” — asserts that one drop of African blood makes you a colored person. And that anyone with even one black ancestor is a “Negro” and cannot mingle with the Whites… Nevermind reign over the rich and famous all over the world. Should anybody discover that Belle has some black blood she is done for. All the more so that she happens to be also the daughter of the greatest black activist of her time, Richard Greener, who despises her choice to belong to the white elites and sees her career as the epitome of treason. The book follows the destiny of a free spirit, torn apart between her guilt and her eagerness to live a full and rich life. It is the story of her victories and her doubts. A woman full of life whose stunning audacity announces all of today’s fights.

• first reviews

"Belle Greene, Alexandra Lapierre’s new character, is a true marvel !"
Paris Diary by Laure, du 17 janvier 2021


"The luminous and sensitive portrait of an extraordinary woman in an America fraught with taboos and, consequently, with transgressions."
Point de vue, Wensday January 20th 2021


"Erudite, sharp, and worldly, she hid an incredible secret…The story told with panache by Alexandra Lapierre of one of the first women of the 20thcentury to have had the madness, and above all the courage, to choose her own destiny."
Elle, Friday January 22 2021


"The destiny of a woman who was remarkably ahead of her time is told by Alexandra Lapierre at a breathless pace, with the panache and the elegance that distinguish her writing."
Le Service Littéraire, Monday February1st 2021


“With the tale of this amazing destiny, Alexandra Lapierre recounts a piece of American history and the story of a flamboyant woman. Lapierre loves extraordinary characters: in Belle Greene, she has found a heroine worthy of her talent."
Le Matin Dimanche, Sunday January 31st 2021


"This beautiful, exciting, feverish, angry narrative tells us about an indomitable woman whose motto pleases me: I don’t belong to you!"
Version Femina, Saturday February 6th 2021


"A magnificent work!"
Radio classique, Franck Ferrand raconte..., Friday January 29th 2021


"Once again, Alexandra Lapierre has the outstanding flair of making us discover the remarkable destiny of a forgotten woman."
RTL, Radio Show Les livres ont la parole,, Sunday January 31st 2021


• author

Alexandra Lapierre is the author of successful novels and biographies on amazing women unfairly forgotten by History. In France, her works include Fanny Stevenson (Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle), Artemisia (Prix du XVIIIe siècle and BBC’s Book of the Week), Je te vois reine des quatre parties du monde (Prix Historia du meilleur roman historique), and Moura, la mémoire incendiée, which was awarded the ‘Prix de l'Héroïne de Madame Figaro’. All of her books have been translated and published worldwide. Belle Greene has been published in France on January 20th, 2021. www.alexandralapierre.com