Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review of THE BELLE of TWO ARBORS

The Belle of Two Arbors
by Paul Dimond, Marcia Buhr Grimes (Poetry By)
Published April 4th, 2017 by Cedar Forge Press
Paperback, 696 pages

Born at the turn of the twentieth century in Glen Arbor, near the dunes of Northern Michigan, young Belle is the first child of a gruff stove works boss and a crippled mother who weaned Belle on the verse of Emily Dickinson. When a natural disaster results in her mother’s death and nearly takes the life of her younger brother Pip, Belle creates a fierce, almost ecstatic farewell song. Thus begins her journey to compose a perfect Goodbye to Mama.

At 21, Belle ventures south to Ann Arbor for university, with teenaged Pip in tow. There, she befriends Robert Frost, Ted Roethke and Wystan Auden and finds that her poetry stands alongside theirs, and even with that of her hero, Dickinson. Her lyrics capture the sounds, sights, and rhythms of the changing seasons in the northern forests, amidst the rolling dunes by the shores of the Great Lake.
Despite the peace she finds, Belle also struggles in both homes. Up north, she battles her father who thinks a woman can’t run the family business; and clashes against developers who would scar the natural landscape. In Ann Arbor, she challenges the status quo of academic pedants and chauvinists.

Belle’s narrative brings these two places to life in their historic context: a growing Midwestern town driven by a public university, striving for greatness; and a rural peninsula seeking prosperity while preserving its natural heritage. Through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Post-War Boom, Belle’s story is hard to put down. Her voice and songs will be even harder to forget.

PURCHASE

The book starts with a Publishers’ Note who wrote: “Now, Dear Reader, you will decide whether Belle’s voice should join the others, she helped sing into the world.” Which is an impossible task since no poetry of hers is used in the book. The poetry used as Belle’s was written by Martha Buhr Grimes, and at no point is it ever explained to the reader why Belles was not used since the poetry had been found in 1953 after her death, leaving that a mystery.
I found great delight in reading this book. At first, I was slightly suspicious of the 696 pages, wondering if the author could keep the plot stimulating enough to hold my attention throughout the entire book. Well, I had no reason for concern because the whole read was fascinating, although a few topics were left open. I assume for each reader's individual interpretation. The plot kept me interested as the story progressed through many generations with unrequited love, death, and scandals. These are just a minute peek of what to look forward to. This story held me in its clutches till the end.

“You and Pip are both crazy enough to see miracles in the smallest drop of water or a single atom and in the biggest Great Lake or greater universe.”Oh, phaw,” Frost retorted, “you’re just trying to avoid a good argument.” He looked to Mrs. Frost. “Is it okay if we leave it that Pip should look for signs of intelligent life in space, and I’ll keep looking for it here on earth?”.”Yes, Mrs. Frost replied, “but don’t you think Pip’s odds may be better?”       
I learned a plenitude of information regarding how wealthy people lived in the 1920’s plus I feel more proficient in the paraphernalia for example: pince-nez a pair of eyeglasses with a nose clip instead of earpiece although I could go on for pages I think this one example will do. Additionally, I think I spent as much time researching anything I found interesting as I did reading the book itself. Consequently, causing me to get a little behind with other obligations, oops. Likewise, by reading this book I became informed about other famous poets mostly Robert Frost. Never in any other situation would I have been as engrossed in his life's circumstances, hence the author made the experience feel as if it was coming straight from R. Frost himself. Therefore, the author made the entire book seem genuine. I would like to mention how impressed I was on the physical endurance of the characters. These were no slackers doing everything to the extreme no matter what it concerned, unless at the time you suffered from the grippe. Consequently, I assume people in that day, mostly consisted of that nature which is astounding.

“You should hear the Director of Women’s Physical Education talk though: “The social position of women does not permit any physical exploitation or unladylike competition”"...Doctor Margaret Belle says, “Participation in varsity athletics can disrupt the functioning of the female reproductive system.”
Finally, even back then Belle and her family were highly conscious of the environment, eventually learning how to change the family stove business from coal to gas, saving the Sleeping Bear Dunes from destruction and also helping in regenerating forest land from the logging industry in Leelanau County.  
Go pick up a copy or order from above because this is not a story you will want to miss. When you do let me know so we can chat about it.


Sleeping Bear Dunes in the 1920's
ROBERT FROST AT THE HOUSE ON PONTIAC TRAIL WHERE HE AND HIS FAMILY LIVED DURING ONE OF HIS FELLOWSHIPS AT U-M. THE HOUSE WAS LATER RELOCATED TO GREENFIELD VILLAGE IN DEARBORN.






Since birth, Paul Dimond has shared his time between Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, and Glen Arbor amidst Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan.

Prior to researching and writing The Belle of Two Arbors, Paul Dimond served as the Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, tried several major race case that divided the U.S. Supreme Court and served as the Special Assistant to President Clinton for Economic Policy. He has also practiced law, chaired a national real estate firm and continues to spend his time between the two Arbors. He is an alumni of Amherst College and the University of Michigan Law School. Visit his Website.



I hope you enjoyed this review. If you did leave me a comment below👇

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for being on the blog tour for this one.

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    1. It definitely was a pleasure to be a part of.

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  2. I'm so pleased that this book delighted you all the way through! Many thanks for your comments.

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    1. Being a Michigander and knowing the areas where the story took place was a lot of fun. Plus the author was spot on with the history of both Ann Arbor & Glen Arbor.

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  3. LOVE your blog. I found you on Instagram.

    Beautiful background and posts.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

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    1. Thank you for such kind words about my blog. I struggle with writing reviews so comments like yours help me a lot.

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