Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Cedar Forge Press - April 4th, 2017
Meet Ann Arbor author and accomplished lawyer Paul Dimond -- former Special Assistant to President Clinton for Economic Policy – as he presents his heavily researched, Michigan-set historical fiction novel The Belle of Two Arbors. Featuring poetry Martha Buhr Grimes, the novel tells the story of Belle, born at the turn of the twentieth century in Glen Arbor, near the dunes of Northern Michigan, an aspiring poet weaned on the verse of Emily Dickenson. At 21, Belle ventures south to Ann Arbor for university where she befriends Robert Frost, Ted Roethke, and Wystan Auden, and finds that her poetry stands alongside theirs. 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.
Praise for The Belle of Two Arbors
The Belle of Two Arbors is a beguiling story about a talented woman from the back of beyond who dares to establish her own identity. Capturing the upper reaches of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Dimond creates a new American fable that, like the great novels of Willa Cather, both lacerates and heals: An ingenious feat of fictional biography. --Theodore Rosengarten, National Book Award Winner
Dimond imagines the intertwined lives of literary giants in a saga as evocative as Faulkner, with plot lines as cracking as Hemingway s short stories in Michigan s northern woods. Belle s bravery and artistic consciousness are an inspiration. --John Dempsey, Chair of the Michigan Historical Commission and co-author of Michigan Notable Book Award-winner Ink Trails: Michigan s Famous and Forgotten Authors
In the company of Paul Dimond's extraordinary Belle, we witness the turbulence of a rapidly changing America in the first half of the 20th century. In her roles as poet, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and conservation leader, Belle interacts with a well-realized cast of characters, both imagined and real, most notably the poet Robert Frost. In this full and searching 'portrait of a lady,' Dimond renders the opportunities and obstacles that shape Belle's story in such a way as to remind us that her world is also ours in the making. --Donald Sheehy, Editor of The Letters of Robert Frost. Vols. 1-2
About The Belle of Two Arbors
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 Dickenson. 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.