Happy Wednesday! Today I have a review of Josephine Baker’s Last Dance now available from Gallery Books! I wish I could remember my first introduction to Josephine Baker, but it seems like it was a spicy documentary; maybe on HBO when I was a child? I remember being enthralled with her, and I could not wait to read this book. There was much more to Josephine Baker than her dance career, and this book drives that home.
Oh, how I enjoyed this look into Josephine Baker’s life. What an icon she was and continues to be with her legacy.
Who was Josephine Baker? What defines her the most. Singer? Dancer? Actor? Civil Rights activist? She even joined the French Resistance during WWII.
Josephine’s early life is marred by poverty and living in servitude. Her mother sends her out of the home as a servant while still a child living in St. Louis. Josephine endures abuse at the hands of her parents and also by those for whom she works.
Ultimately, she makes a break from her unstable and dysfunctional home life and becomes a dancer. She finds herself touring all the way to Paris. While there, she breaks all the glass ceilings for black women: the first to dance on stage in Paris, the first lead in a movie, and then an opera. She is at the top of her game career-wise and touring all over Europe.
Josephine has an encounter with Nazis while touring in Berlin, and because of that, she becomes involved with the French Resistance. What she does in this role and how she carries it out is intriguing and masterful.
After having lived in a Europe without segregation, when Josephine returns to the United States on tour, she is heartbroken and dispirited to find out that nothing has changed since she left. She vows to take on prejudice in the U.S.
I am so grateful I read this book. Josephine was a spitfire, an ingenue, a power player, and a change-maker, and I found her inspiring. Ahead of her time, she remains an icon, and Sherry Jones found the perfect way to depict her spirited nature, her passion for life, and her commitment to human rights. Josephine Baker’s Last Dance is a bold journey of a bold woman.
Thank you to Gallery Books for the opportunity to read and review this treasure of a book. All opinions are my own.
From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.
Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.
In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.
With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.
Have you read Josephine Baker’s Last Dance, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR