“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 All God’s Children: The Life of Nate Shaw and MacArthur Fellow
“Paul Dimond’s Belle of Two Arbors is historical fiction at its most informative and engaging. Belle is poet, protectress, matriarch and muse, whether advocating for a more inclusive University in Ann Arbor or promoting the preservation of America’s premier national lakeshore in Glen Arbor. Fans of the poets Frost, Roethke, Auden and Dickinson are in for a treat: Belle weaves their histories in Michigan and the legacies of Dickinson and Frost in Amherst expertly with the fictional characters. A treasure of a read!”
–Barbara Stark-Nemon, author of award-winning historical novel, Even in Darkness
“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 Michigan Historical Commission and co-author Michigan Notable Book Award Ink Trails: Michigan’s Famous and Forgotten Authors
“Belle’s narrative voice captures the sounds, rhythms and sights of the changing seasons Up North and of a public college striving to become a great national university downstate. Throughout this historical novel, her songs stand with the poems of the great figures she engages. Once read, The Belle of Two Arbors will prove just as hard to forget.”
–Del Dunbar, Rare book collector, including those of Robert Frost
“…a wonderfully crafted story of poets, perseverance, and good people: History comes alive with great storytelling and the art of capturing a reader’s imagination and steadfast attention until the last stanza.”
–Christian Overland, Executive Vice-President of The Henry Ford and Chair of the Michigan Travel Commission
“The intertwined stories of Belle’s long relationship with three of the great poets of the 20th century make for a fascinating read. Told in the context of dramatic events at the University of Michigan, this historical novel will become an important part of our literary fabric.”
–Andrew Martin, Dean of LSA, The University of Michigan
“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, Ed. The Letters of Robert Frost. Vols. 1–2
Reviews & Interviews
Svetlana’s Reads and Views: Review of The Belle of Two Arbors, August 28, 2017.
I also want to commend the author for writing an amazing, believable and vulnerable heroine. I honestly can't wait to go back to The Belle of Two Arbors and savor the story again.
Bill Castanier interviews Paul Dimond for Lansing City Pulse: “Proper poetic license.” August 17, 2017.
The Belle of Two Arbors provides accurate, gripping realism. The Belle of Two Arbors is a fictional look at the University of Michigan’s golden age of poetry, when Robert Frost held court on the campus along with Theodore Roethke and W.H. Auden. …The book also interweaves the poetry of Martha Buhr Grimes, who mimics Belle’s poetic voice, helping to deepen the reader’s understanding of her character. …The novel is a sweeping historical look at two-thirds of America’s 20th century through the eyes of Belle and her poetry and her effort to keep her poetic sense of life against the backdrop of the Roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, World War II and the post-war boom.
Listen online to Michael Patrick Shiels’ interview of Ann Arbor author Paul Dimond on Michigan’s Big Show on August 15, 2017, or download an MP3 audio file.
“Writing a book is like climbing a mountain. Publishing a book is even a higher [feat].” An interview not to miss! Listen to Michael Patrick Shiels’ interview of Ann Arbor author Paul Dimond on Michigan’s Big Show. They discussed Paul’s recently published Michigan-set historical fiction novel The Belle of Two Arbors, featuring poetry by Martha Buhr Grimes.
MLive: Martin Slaghter interviews author Paul Dimond: “Ann Arbor author’s new novel taps into Michigan’s poetic history,” August 12, 2017.
For the better part of a decade, Ann Arbor attorney and author Paul Dimond poured his heart and his childhood memories into a novel that gives fictional voices to historically significant Michigan poets. Dimond’s The Belle of Two Arbors weaves together memories of his childhood vacationing spot of Glen Arbor and his longtime home, Ann Arbor, where protagonist Belle attends college.
Patti Smith interviews Paul Dimond for Pulp, a blog dedicated to Arts Around Ann Arbor. “The Bell of Two Arbors is a historical novel that’s heavy on research.” August 10, 2017.
“Epic” is not a word to be thrown about lightly, especially in the literary world. But Paul Dimond’s gorgeous historical novel The Belle of Two Arbors, which details the towns of Glen Arbor, Ann Arbor, and a lifetime that spans decades, should at least be under consideration to be called as such. …Intertwined with Dimond’s gorgeous prose are Grimes’ enchanting poems. “Marty’s poems have this ability to capture the movement and grace and changing of the seasons so it paints the pictures for readers,” he said. Together, their words bring our beautiful Arbors to life.
CelticLady’s Reviews: Spotlight on The Belle of Two Arbors. July 23, 2017.
Belle’s narrative brings [northern Michigan and Ann Arbor] 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.
Diary of an Eccentric: Review of The Belle of Two Arbors. June 26, 2017.
I enjoyed the novel overall because of Belle. What a fantastic heroine! She was brave, strong-willed, ahead of her time, a pillar of strength among her friends and family, a source of encouragement and love. She had dreams and figured out ways to achieve them. She managed the ups and downs of love without being overly romantic or dramatic. Her interactions with historical figures were fascinating....
Readaholic Zone: Review of The Belle of Two Arbors. June 22, 2017.
I found great delight in reading this book. At first, I was slightly suspicious of the 696 pages, wondering if the author could… hold my attention throughout the entire book. I had no reason for concern because the whole story was fascinating… through many generations of unrequited love, death and scandal…. This story held me in its clutches till the end.
The Black Sheep Reader: Review of The Belle of Two Arbors. June 21, 2017.
A beautifully written and informative historical fiction. … The Belle of Two Arbors found her voice in poetry together with well-known poets like Robert Frost. Paul Dimond brings 20th century Michigan to life and touches poetry, family life, and breaking barriers.
A Literary Vacation Blog spotlights The Belle of Two Arbors. June 13, 2017. Information on The Belle of Two Arbors and the schedule for the book’s blog tour.
Conversations with the Bookish: Interviews by Jorie: an in-depth interview with author Paul Dimond, June 8, 2017.
From Jorie’s introduction to her interview with author Paul Dimond: I have a special treat for you today! The author of an impressively expansive Biographical Historical Fiction story has presented me with a comprehensive response... He delves into his back-history as a writer [to explain how] this new release . . . was... crafted to surmount a perspective of living history augmented against the fictional life of Belle.... In the end what stood out to most was the realistic portrayal of Belle: a woman who should have lived and, sadly, never did.
100 Pages A Day... Stephanie’s Book Reviews: Review of The Belle of Two Arbors, June 6, 2017.
The writing in The Belle of Two Arbors is impressive; to carry me through several decades in almost 700 pages, Belle’s story captivated and intrigued. In partnership with the poetry, the words painted a landscape and evoked strong feelings of love, loss and natural beauty. I truly did feel that the poetry was on par with the writers of the time…. Most importantly, for me, the history was brought alive…. Throughout everything, Belle’s story reminds us that we are the greatest tool to shape the world around us.
Teddy Rose Book Reviews: Guest Post by author Paul Dimond, June 2, 2017.
The author shares how the lead character Belle as reclusive poet can still deepen her long friendship over decades with a distant colleague but close friend, through a sample of her letters with Robert Frost.
Jorie Loves A Story: Review of The Belle of Two Arbors, June 1, 2017.
What intrigued me about this release is how its story is not only told from narrative prose but through poetic insight into the character’s internal mind…. Definitely a winning match between novelist and poet; redefining the boundaries of literature and how poetry can walk alongside narrative voice to where each blends into a singular tone of a character’s journey.
Foreword Reviews: The Belle of Two Arbors is reviewed by Aimee Jodoin, May 26, 2017. Five stars.
Alternating between Glen Arbor and Ann Arbor in the early to mid-1900s, Paul Dimond’s atmospheric fictional biography relates the life of a poet, Belle Peebles, a young woman whose love for her family and her home defines her and drives her. Belle’s ambition and distinct voice animate The Belle of Two Arbors.... It’s easy to forget that Belle is fictional in these pages, rather than a genuine historical figure.
Event Resources & Publications
Robert Frost was the most celebrated American poet in history. The Henry Ford hosted the second annual event A Literary Feast: An Evening of Frost & Food on September 13, 2018. Guests gathered at the Frost House for an intimate evening of Frost’s work and his influence on modern poetry and literature. Author Paul Dimond introduced the evening.
The second annual Robert Frost Poetry Feast featured the works of and readings by award-winning poets Vievee Francis and Gregory Pardlo set against the beautiful backdrops of the Robert Frost home and Eagle Tavern in Greenfield Village. Guests enjoyed cocktails at the Frost home where the famed poet wrote “Spring Pools” among other works and then a dinner of locally-sourced fare from Michigan farms and food purveyors at Eagle Tavern.
Watch author Paul Dimond’s introduction to the event which includes recordings of Robert Frost reading selected poems.
Read the author’s introduction to the evening and poet Vievee Francis
Read the author’s introduction for poet Gregory Pardlo
Read the author’s introduction to an audio recording of Frost at JFK’s inauguration
On a snowy April 9, 2018, Ann Arbor bookstore Literati hosted a presentation by Paul Dimond, author of The Belle of Two Arbors. The author’s presentation “The Persistence of Frost” coincided with the publication of his article “Frost and Burton at Michigan, 1921–26, Then and Now” in the Michigan Quarterly Review’s 57th volume.
Download and read a PDF of the author’s presentation “The Persistence of Frost.”
Paul R. Dimond’s essay, “Frost and Burton at Michigan, 1921–26, Then and Now,” appears in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Winter 2018 issue, Vol 57, No 1. , published April 1, 2018. Adapted from a presentation delivered as part of the U-M Bicentennial Poetry Symposium on April 7, 2017.
This September 14, 2107 literary event marked the beginning of the Robert Frost House’s transformation into a center to nurture and showcase the next generation of Great American Poets. The event celebrated the poet’s works and Frost’s influence on modern poetry and literature. The evening began with a presentation and poetry reading by author Paul Dimond and poet Martha Buhr Grimes at the Robert Frost House. Guests then traveled via Model-T to the Eagle Tavern where the presentation included archival footage of the great poet and his relationship to JFK. Award-winning poet Vievee Francis concluded the program with readings from both her and Frost’s works. The evening ended with Q&A for the presenters and discussion on how to inspire and support literary creativity in future generations.
Watch the full event video which includes footage highlighting the connection between President John F. Kennedy and Robert Frost during the final three years of the poet’s life. This historic archival footage begins at 43:55 with a brief introduction by author Paul Dimond.
Watch highlights from this literary event.
Read The Detroit News article discussing the upcoming event and Greenfield Village’s history.
Read Paul Dimond and Martha Buhr Grime’s full presentation: A Literary Feast at The Henry Ford: Frost and Food — Robert Frost and Belle at Michigan, Spring 1926.
The Belle of Two Arbors is a page-turning read.... Authors Paul Dimond and Martha Buhr Grimes, dance together in multi-genre dichotomy... to offer readers a story beyond a story about poets and their poems during overlapping years spent in Ann Arbor. Whether embraced in the Great Lakes of Glen Arbor (up north) beginning in 1913 or Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan (down state) ending in 1978, this historical novel weaves on-going concerns for Michigan’s land and its people: both sacred.
–Ann Ransford, Director, Roethke House Museum, review introducing the authors for “A Feast of Poems: Belle and Roethke” at the Roethke Historic House in Saginaw, Michigan, May 13, 2017
[Paul Dimond's] just finished book, The Belle of Two Arbors, intertwines the relationship of the main character, Belle, with three of the greatest 20th century poets — Auden, Roethke, and Frost. This historical novel, told in the context of dramatic events at the University of Michigan, is certain to become an important part of Michigan’s literary fabric.
–Andrew Martin, Dean of the Literature, Science and Arts College, The University of Michigan, introducing the Bicentennial Poetry Symposium, “Poets at Michigan Then and Now,”April 7, 2017
Read Dean Martin's full remarks and a recap of the event.
Watch video of author Paul Dimond’s full remarks during the UM Bicentennial Poetry Symposium.
Watch the video shown at the symposium: Poets at Michigan Then and Now: Robert Frost.
“An erudite panel it was…. After 90 minutes, the session ended to my disappointment, for it could have gone on and on…. The Belle of Two Arbors [has] been described as a page-turning read. I wholeheartedly concur.”
–Jack Dempsey, avid historian, two-term President of the Michigan Historical Commission, and award-winning author of Capitol Park, Ink Trails Volumes I-II, Michigan at Antietam, and Michigan and the Civil War
Read author Jack Dempsey’s entire blog posting on the morning symposium session led by author Paul Dimond and Dimond’s new book, The Belle of Two Arbors. June 5, 2017.
The Belle of Two Arbors
by Paul Dimond
Published by Cedar Forge Press