Acquired Book By: I have been hosting for Poetic Book Tours for a few years now, where I am finding myself encouraged to seek out collections of poetry or incredible fiction being published through Small Trade publishers and presses. I have an Indie spirit and mentality as a writer and I appreciate finding authors who are writing creative works through Indie resources as I find Indies have a special spirit about them. It is a joy to work with Poetic Book Tours for their resilience in seeking out voices in Literature which others might overlook and thereby, increasing my own awareness of these beautiful lyrical voices in the craft. I was thankful to be selected for the blog tour featuring a unique combination of historical fiction, poetry and a saga of one woman’s life lived through the story within ‘The Belle of Two Arbors’ as it sounded like such an original concept to be explored in Historical Fiction. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publicist of Paul Dimond in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I felt inspired to read this novel:
Through my literary wanderings hosting for Poetic Book Tours, I have come to expand my Contemporary Poetry readings whilst continuing to seek out Indie Fiction by writers who may or may not become widely known in the bookish community. I love finding the innovating voices who write inspiring novels but one thing I also like to seek out are the writers who bend genre to their own will. One of my favourite sub-niches of literature are the genre-benders – where there is a fusion of influences from more than one genre or thematic of story-telling being bridged into one singular story or the arc of a character’s journey told through a series.
What intrigued me about this release is how it’s a story which is not only told from narrative prose but through poetic insight into the character’s internal mind. Poetry is a personal release of emotion, vision and imagination. Purporting through a styled layout of lyrical insightfulness, poetry can transcend a wide field of emotional range. I was inspired to seek out this title if only to see how poetry and narrative scope could interlink to each other and expound upon the telling of a character’s journey.
Interestingly enough, I knew this story was set in Michigan, however, it wasn’t until I started reading the story I learnt where in Michigan the story takes place as I didn’t look up the specifics until I was already inside the chapters. I have known about Ann Arbor for most of my life, as it’s a progressively diverse city and has been on the forefront of political liberalism for years. It’s a University city but moreso than that, it’s a city which likes to stand on it’s own – curating it’s own mind about things and taking a stand against what goes against it’s core beliefs. In effect, it’s been a rockstar city for the state. However, the other half of the story is set further North, just before you get to Sault Ste. Marie, there is this little tucked away corner of the Michigan Coast where the Traverse Bay region resides. I know a great deal about this portion of the state even if I haven’t stepped foot on her shores. This is partially why as I read more of the story, it tugged at my heart knowing about all the recent changes happening up there and around the rest of the state as a whole. I hint about this a bit but as the focus is not about Environmental Science, Geology or the cause for concern over contaminated water basins – I opted to yield to focusing on the literary side of the book rather than the grief I have felt over the issues most at hand for Michigan’s residents.
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.
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.
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: Author Interview: Paul Dimond
Published by Cedar Forge Press
on 4th April, 2017
Format: Paperback ARC
Published By: Cedar Forge Press
Available Formats: Paperback
Read the article about the author via The Ann Arbor News
Converse via: #BelleOfTwoArbors
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge