Friday, 13 April 2018


This starred review of Becoming Belle will appear in the Library Journal in the USA this weekend. VERY happy with it!

O’Connor, Nuala. Becoming Belle. Putnam. Aug. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780735214408. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780735214422. F

In 1897, Isabel Bilton dreams of leaving her home at a Hampshire military base for London. The oldest daughter of a British officer and his formidable wife, Isobel struggles against the familial and social expectations that diminish her. At 19, she fulfills her ambition to go to the capital, where she becomes Belle Bilton, star of the London stage. Though she relishes the nontraditional artistic and social freedoms offered by city life, Belle still has to contend with people who seem compelled to control her. This remains a theme throughout her life, even after she marries the dashing Irish aristocrat William Trench, Viscount Dunlo. Their marriage scandalizes Trench’s family and London society. Undeterred by malicious legal action and the threats of disinheritance, William and Belle relocate to the Trench family demesne in Ireland, their romance triumphant. VERDICT As with her debut, Miss Emily, O’Connor offers a stunning historical reimagining. Her eye for details, including Victorian dress, food, and technology, enhance her mastery of character and inner dialog.

[See Prepub Alert, 2/26/18.]—John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman

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