The Resource Belle Cora, Phillip Margulies

Belle Cora, Phillip Margulies

Label
Belle Cora
Title
Belle Cora
Statement of responsibility
Phillip Margulies
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
A sweeping historical tale based on the life and times of the daughter of a New York merchant finds the orphaned Belle suffering at the hands of a rival cousin before working as a prostitute and transforming herself repeatedly to win the love and life she desires
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Margulies, the author of numerous science and history books for young adults, strikes gold in his first novel. Depicted as the deathbed autobiography of Arabella Godwin, aka Belle Cora, the story begins with Arabella’s childhood in 1830s Manhattan. When her parents die, her grandparents send her and her younger brother, Lewis, to an aunt’s farm in New York, where she meets her cousin Agnes, who becomes her lifelong enemy. As they grow up, they vie for the attention of Jeptha Talbot, and Arabella succeeds in securing an engagement to him, but Agnes’s lies force the two apart before they are married. Heartbroken, Belle braves one terrible hardship after another, finally ending up in New York, where, in despair, she becomes a high-level prostitute. When she takes up with Charles Cora, a gambler with the heart of gold, he bankrolls her own establishment. She enjoys being a madam and even bears Cora a son, whom she sends to live with her one kind relative. But then she discovers that Jeptha and Agnes are engaged and planning to go to San Francisco on a trip. Margulies’s writing never falters, and the reader will easily get lost in the world he’s built. Belle’s remarkable story mirrors that of her young country, on the verge of civil war, and her sharp, engaging voice brings her tale to vivid life. (Jan.) --Staff (Reviewed September 30, 2013) (Publishers Weekly, vol 260, issue 39, p)
  • The legendary Belle Cora (1828–1919), one of San Francisco's wealthiest women, begins her memoir after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, revealing secrets and deception in her own life and broader society. After her mother's death from tuberculosis and her father's scandalous suicide, Arabella Godwin and her younger brother, Lewis, are sent by their wealthy grandfather to their aunt's family in upstate New York. Strict rules and grinding poverty are relieved only by Arabella's friendship with Jeptha Talbot, fueling jealousy in her cousin Agnes. Their rivalry for Jeptha's love plus Lewis's penchant for violence dictate many of Arabella's actions. After being raped by her cousin Matthew, Arabella reinvents herself to survive. Whether as high-class prostitute Harriet Knowles in New York City or notorious madam Belle Cora in San Francisco, she profits from associations with wealthy businessmen and prominent politicians. Belle's experiences in places from high society to seamy street life include information on textile mills, gold rush fever, religious revivals, and vigilantism. She finds support from Charles Cora, a charming gambler who fathers her son. VERDICT Making his adult fiction debut, Margulies, an author of YA nonfiction, infuses his novel with historical detail without slowing the pace and makes the reappearances and interactions of characters plausible. The charm and self-invention that served Arabella throughout her life give voice to a story that will captivate historical fiction fans as they follow her exploits during a turbulent era. [See Prepub Alert, 7/29/13.]— Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato --Kathy Piehl (Reviewed October 1, 2013) (Library Journal, vol 138, issue 18, p67)
  • The fictional memoir of an actual madam who ruled Gold Rush–era San Francisco. Except for her extraordinary beauty, Arabella Godwin is no different from any well–brought-up young lady in New York City circa 1837. Then misfortune intervenes: Her mother dies of consumption, her father kills himself, and instead of taking in the new orphans, her wealthy grandfather sends her two older siblings to boarding school and Arabella and youngest brother Lewis to the chilly confines of a hardscrabble farm in the Finger Lakes town of Livy. There, Arabella's Aunt Agatha and Uncle Elihu force the orphans to endure a new life of endless chores and frequent corporal punishment. Gradually, Arabella adjusts with the help of a teenage romance with Jeptha, an angelic looking drunkard's son--whom her scheming cousin Agnes also loves. However, when Jeptha gets religion and Arabella is raped by her brutish cousin Matthew, the resulting pregnancy and induced miscarriage will propel her out of Livy. After a brief stint as a millworker, Arabella returns to New York City to rescue Lewis, who's been stabbed. Eventually, supporting ne'er-do-well Lewis forces Arabella into prostitution--it's the only way to secure large amounts of money quickly. Aided by a newspaperman client, Arabella exposes the corrupt policeman and the ward boss who had persecuted Lewis and cheated her. When she learns that her grandfather and older brothers are searching for her, she avails herself of this last chance to leave "the life" behind, but freeing herself completely will involve murder. Now married to preacher Jeptha, with whom she has been reunited after managing to wrest him away from her rival, Agnes, Arabella heads for California. The couple's mission is to convert San Francisco miners, and since Arabella has been intercepting Agnes' letters, Jeptha remains, so far, ignorant of her fall from grace. Margulies' recreation of Arabella's milieu and astute observations of the hypocritical sexual mores of a bygone time lend resonance to this episodic epic. A convincing melodrama in which the victim takes charge.(Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2013)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10234565
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1952-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Margulies, Phillip
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Orphans
  • Prostitutes
  • Reminiscing in old age
  • Gamblers
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • San Francisco (Calif.)
Label
Belle Cora, Phillip Margulies
Instantiates
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
996279
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
594 pages
Isbn
9780385532761
Isbn Type
(hbk.)
Lccn
2012048554
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
(Sirsi) i9780385532761
Label
Belle Cora, Phillip Margulies
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
996279
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
594 pages
Isbn
9780385532761
Isbn Type
(hbk.)
Lccn
2012048554
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
(Sirsi) i9780385532761

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