‘Incandescent characters and mellifluous prose’ Lisa Carey
The true story of a woman ahead of her time . . .
In 1887, Isabel Bilton is the eldest of three daughters of a middle-class military family, growing up in a small garrison town. By 1891 she is the Countess of Clancarty, dubbed “the peasant countess” by the press, and a member of the Irish aristocracy. Becoming Belle is the story of the four years in between, of Belle’s rapid ascent and the people that tried to tear her down.
Reimagined by a novelist at the height of her powers, Belle is an unforgettable woman. Set against an absorbing portrait of Victorian London, hers is a timeless rags-to-riches story a la Becky Sharpe.
‘Belle’s determination to live her life on her own terms and in defiance of her times makes her a fascinating subject for the author and the reader . . . a touchstone from the past to inspire in the present.’ Irish Central
‘Nuala O’Connor has the thrilling ability to step back nimbly and enter the deep dance of time. This is a hidden history laid luminously before us of an exultant Anglo-Irish woman navigating the dark shoals and the bright fields of a life.’ Sebastian Barry, award-winning author of The Secret Scripture and Days Without End
‘Masterful storytelling! I was putty in Nuala O’Connor’s hands. She made the unsinkable Belle Bilton and her down-to-earth sister Flo real to me, and brought 1880’s London to my living room. Encore! Encore!‘ Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe
‘A glorious novel in which Belle Bilton and 19th century London are brought roaring to life with exquisite period detail.’ Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of A Memory of Violets
‘Thoroughly engrossing and entertaining read. O’Connor’s meticulous attention to period detail and scrutiny of the upper classes and their shallow lives [is] reminiscent of Edith Wharton at her very best. It also makes us question whether women have ever really escaped from the censorious judgement of Victorian times.’ Liz Nugent, author of Unraveling Oliver
‘Thrillingly dramatic and achingly moving and profoundly resonant into this present era.’ Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
‘Becoming Belle is so mesmerizing you will be distraught when it ends. O’Connor has resurrected a fiery, inexorable woman who rewrites the script on a stage supposedly ruled by men. Sensual, witty, daring, and unapologetically forward.’ Lisa Carey, author of The Stolen Child ‘O’Connor gently unfolds Belle’s tale in a manner that is compelling and disarming. The ambience may be Victorian elegance but the sheer honesty of O’Connor’s writing is sensual, authentic and earthy. A delight!’ Rose Servitova, author of The Longbourn Letters