“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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
Read Ann Hansford's full remarks and a recap of the event.
[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
“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