Becoming Belle is a witty and inherently feminist novel about passion and marriage, based on a true story of an unstoppable woman ahead of her time in Victorian London.
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.
With only her talent, charm, and determination, Isabel moves to London alone at age nineteen, changes her name to Belle, and takes the city by storm, facing unthinkable hardships as she rises to fame. A true bohemian and the star of a dancing double act she performs with her sister, she reigns over The Empire Theatre and The Corinthian Club, where only select society entertains. It is there she falls passionately in love with William, Viscount Dunlo, a young aristocrat. For Belle, her marriage to William is a dream come true, but his ruthless father makes clear he’ll stop at nothing to keep her in her place.
Re-imagined 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.
Becoming Belle will be published in August 2018, and is available to pre-order now.
“O’Connor’s language is clean and conscientious as well as poetic and lyrical, evident in the abstraction of “Yellow”. The collection exudes a quiet confidence and exercises the exemplary restraint of a seasoned writer who knows when to pull rather than push.”
Louisa Carroll The Sunday Times – 04-June-2017
“This blending of wry, caustic irreverence and meditative poignancy is central to the success of O’Connor’s storytelling. The mix is just right…”
Houman Barekat Irish Times – 10-June-2017
“Like a volume of rich poetry, this collection begs to be returned to again and again.”
Anne Cunningham Sunday Independent – 18-June-2017
Evening Echo – 23-June-2017
The Noise of Time initially appears to be the latest addition to a hybrid literary form with which we are increasingly familiar – the fictional biography. Recent examples range from Colm Tóibin’s The Master (which presented a repressed and unhappy Henry James) to Nuala O’Connor’s excellent Miss Emily (which gave us a wilful and tormented Emily Dickinson).
Alex Preston, The Guardian
“…Irish writer Nuala O’Connor breathes new life into reclusive poet Emily Dickinson in her mesmerizing U.S. debut. Like one of Dickinson’s poems, the deceptively simple narrative packs a powerful punch…”
Margaret Flanagan in Booklist
“Miss Emily is a triumph of a novel, creating an utterly human and believable Emily Dickinson through the eyes of an enchanting and complex fictional Irish woman. Their story is smart and witty and harrowing and brilliantly revelatory of the interplay of life and inspiration in a nascent great artist. And all this is done in prose that has the same condensed, particularizing power of Dickinson’s poetry. Nuala O’Connor has long been one of my favorite contemporary Irish writers. She will certainly find an ardently admiring American audience with this extraordinary novel.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler