Author: Kathryn Witt
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-160844-132-7

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The Secret of the Belles, a fun children’s novel about two thirteen year old girls, separated by seven decades but connected by a love for a movie, would be a perfect read for any young teenage girl. Lanie Sullivan and Belle Blakely share a love for Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind and a fascination for Belle Watling and the actress who portrays her in the movie. The book has everything to keep a reader entertained, danger, mystery, and even boys!

There are two story lines in the book. The first is about Lanie Sullivan, a teenager who adores anything related to the novel and manages to meet the actress portraying her favorite character while in Atlanta for the movie’s premiere in 1939. Most of Lanie’s story line focuses on this, though there is a little bit at the end that occurs five years later as she is on a train headed for Hollywood, finally realizing her dream to become an actress.

The second story line follows Belle Blakely, a teenager in modern day Marietta, Georgia who also loves Mitchell’s novel and is helping prepare a museum, dedicated to all things involving the movie and novel, for its big grand opening. Belle discovers letters written by Lanie to Ona Munson, the actress that portrayed Belle Watling in the movie and becomes determined to discover what happened to Lanie.  During her quest she discovers that she and Lanie have even more of a connection than just a love for Gone With the Wind (GWTW), uncovers a coveted piece of GWTW memorabilia, and eventually answers the question of what happened to Lanie.

Even though this book is aimed at a younger audience I found it an entertaining story to read. I really enjoyed how the author continuously wove Lanie and Belle’s stories together in many different (and sometimes unexpected) ways. The two main characters were quite likeable and it was fun to read about their love for Mitchell’s extraordinary novel. Lanie’s constant repetition of names was a tad annoying at times but that may just be the way that young girls were expected to talk in the late 1930s.

Belle’s constant speechlessness around the boy she liked was so accurately described the author could have been talking about any girl in America! The descriptions of the events dealing with the 1939 premiere of the movie seem very accurate and well researched. I really enjoyed the parts that discussed the many different artifacts that were being included in the museum. The ending of the novel is a bit bittersweet in that Belle gets to enjoy her first ball, wearing a piece of GWTW movie memorabilia, but she has also discovered Lanie Sullivan’s eventual fate. This would be a great book for any young girl and perhaps it might spark a love and appreciation for GWTW in yet another reader.

Click Here To Purchase The Secret of the Belles