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Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones: A Book Review

Josephine Baker’s Last Dance
Author: Sherry Jones
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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.

    My Review: Josephine Baker was one of 20th century’s most legendary performers. She was a woman who overcame the obstacles of racism and became famous and successful. She was a dancer, singer, actress, WWII spy, and Civil Rights Activist. Her story has inspired millions. Josephine Baker's Last Dance chronicles the accomplishments as well as the hardships that Josephine experienced until her very last performance. The novel shows that Josephine’s greatest love was to sing, dance, and entertain.

    Josephine Baker has always been an enigma to me. Her story has always been fascinating, but she always seemed distant and unknowable. In Josephine Baker's Last Dance, Josephine is no longer just a two-dimensional woman on the screen, but a real flesh and blood woman. This novel portrays Josephine’s hopes, flaws, and vulnerabilities. During Josephine’s childhood, there seemed to be very little hope of Josephine ever becoming a star. She grew up in a poor and abusive household in St. Louis, Missouri. However, through Josephine’s passion and determination, she was able to find wealth and fame. Throughout her life, Josephine struggled with racism. However, she never let people’s prejudices affect her. She then became a Civil Rights activist and tirelessly fought for their rights. 

   Overall, this novel is about a woman who overcame racism, poverty, war, and domestic abuse to become a legendary star. The message of the novel is to never give up on your dreams and always work hard. The characters are very flawed and realistic. The setting was very authentic. I love how the author shows the glitz and glamour Paris before WWII and its destruction after the war. The writing was very lyrical, steeped with eloquent descriptions of dance and music. There were some graphic scenes and some that feature abuse that made me a bit uncomfortable. However, I thought that they were necessary because they made Josephine fight harder to pursue her dreams. Josephine Baker's Last Dance is a novel about a woman who would not be stopped on her path to stardom. This novel is perfect for fans of Mademoiselle Chanel, Z, and Platinum Doll.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
       

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