After a twenty-five-year career in journalism, Mary E. Miller left the world of magazine and newspaper writing to enter Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C., where she earned an M.A. in pastoral studies. Miller is now a spiritual director and retreat leader who lives in Surfside Beach, South Carolina.
Miller introduces readers to the colorful life of Belle Baruch, an heiress, athlete, world traveler and would-be spy hunter whose greatest legacy was the bequest of her South Carolina coastal estate for conservation and research. Miller doesn't shy away from the more complex aspects of Belle's biography, offering a direct treatment of her relationships with a string of male and female lovers. The vigorous style and well-paced action carry us along for an engaging ride with a woman who embraced life with verve and vigor. Susan Millar Williams, author of A Devil and a Good Woman, Too: The Lives of Julia Peterkin Hobcaw Barony, a priceless piece of the South Carolina coast, is preserved for all generations to come because of a fiercely independent woman who cherished the land, its heritage, and the creatures which she encountered there. . . . Miller's biography of Belle Baruch doesn't gloss over any weaknesses, yet also allows Belle's strengths to come to the fore and speak for their owner. Her portrayal of Belle leaves the reader with a feeling of sadness that Belle is no longer holding court at Bellefield, no longer someone the reader could possibly meet. Charleston (S.C.) Mercury Miller offers a frank look at Baruch's unconventional life, exploring her flaws and failings, but also celebrating her accomplishments and the independent spirit with which she tackled her goals. The result is a story as interesting as the life of this twentieth-century conservationist, whose love for coastal South Carolina helped preserve Hobcaw Barony near Georgetown and ensure its safe future through the Belle W. Baruch Foundation. Charleston (S.C.) Post & Courier