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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 dedicat 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.


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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 dedicat 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.

30 review for Josephine Baker's Last Dance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones is a 2018 Gallery Books publication. I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, 'cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world ... What a life! I didn't know much about Josephine Baker. I remember watching a Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones is a 2018 Gallery Books publication. I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, 'cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world ... What a life! I didn't know much about Josephine Baker. I remember watching a movie based on her life, many, many years ago, but I’d forgotten most of it, except for the children she had adopted. This book is a work of fiction, as well, but does offer the reader more than adequate insights into Josephine’s life, both professionally and personally. It is hard not to feel impressed by Josephine’s bravery and fortitude. She survived things that would have broken the spirit of most people and kept right on living her life with gusto. Her childhood was horrific, but her adult life was utterly fascinating. She was bold, risqué, and multi-talented, and very funny. This novel captures Josephine’s more interesting escapades in France and Germany and examines the culture-shock she experienced when she returned to the States where she struggled to adjust to the racial inequality in her own country. Her stage shows were racy, but nothing compared to her private life where she had numerous sexual partners and relationships of all stripes. Josephine’s tenure as a spy for the French Resistance is quite intriguing. Her bravery is exceptional, as she faced fear head on, with aplomb, where, here again, I think many of us would have faltered. The brevity of this section, however, is a little disappointing. There are some sections that are rushed through and the book did end in an abrupt fashion, leaving out some key areas of Josephine’s later years. However, it is quite evident the author went all in on her research, and she does her best to capture the wild and undaunted spirit of the incomparable Josephine Baker. Overall, this is an interesting look at an early trailblazer for black women in many different areas of life and entertainment. She is still an inspiration to so many people and performers even after all these years. I enjoyed looking some YouTube clips of Josephine while reading this book. She really could dance, but I think she really loved to sing more than anything else. Some of the clips are very grainy due to age, but still worth watching, and of course several clips captured her infamous eye crossings. I recommend this book to everyone- especially fans of historical fiction and performance art. 4 stars *I won this book from Goodreads giveaway – Many thanks to Gallery Books

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    4 engaging stars to Josephine’s Last Dance! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 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 ab 4 engaging stars to Josephine’s Last Dance! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 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. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mats Werner

    Josephine Baker was during some ten years before her premature death in 1975, a very dear friend of mine – and also of our family. The loss of Josephine at the treshold of new adventures, after some years when she was more or less forgotten and ”out”, when – as an extra burden – her money problem caused her great distress, was deeply felt. 

 In Stockholm, one of her ”regular tour stops”, she had enormous successes during so many years starring with a large entourage on the most important show stag Josephine Baker was during some ten years before her premature death in 1975, a very dear friend of mine – and also of our family. The loss of Josephine at the treshold of new adventures, after some years when she was more or less forgotten and ”out”, when – as an extra burden – her money problem caused her great distress, was deeply felt. 

 In Stockholm, one of her ”regular tour stops”, she had enormous successes during so many years starring with a large entourage on the most important show stages. But for some years she now had to endure without any orchestra but with just a single piano-player, to be able to get a gig at all. The following year a suburbean dance-hall had the courtesy of inviting her to perform for a week and with a full show-orchestra backing. At that time she received this fantastic opportunity to perform in full gala at Bobino in Paris. Bobino was of course not Le Lido or the Folies Bergere, but still a great place to make a come-back on. I had also managed to negotiate two weeks performances at a new show-scene in the center of Stockholm after the Bobino-sejour. She was definitely coming back! She still had her strong and very personal voice, her moves, her ”one-second-dress-changes” and her ability to mesmerize the audience. She would have made a great impact on a new generation and remained the queen of the show-scene!

 But fate wanted something else and she suffered a major stroke that took her life just after the successful opening at Bobino. A lot has been written about Josephine. But now Sherry Jones, author of – among others – the success-novel ”The Jewel of Medina”, has taken on Josephines history in the form of a ”biographic novel” and done so with the honours. It is not a chronological biography, but focuses on some important parts of Josephines life. Her youth, that – the hard way – taught her both the joyfulness and the sorrows of life in the black community of USA in the beginning of the last century. Her lifelong fight against racism and segregation. Her venture as a spy for the French resistance during the war. Her aim to form a rainbow-family (she defined the word long before the HBTQ-people kidnapped it) of adopted children of all races, religions and ethnical backgrounds. But mainly of course, her life on stage where she became the undisputed star of her time. As the strong and determined girl she was, she never let hardship hold her back. France opened its’ arms to her and let her flourish. But also in her new and beloved country she could now and then experience bigotry, pettiness and racism. Especially during the 30-ies and 40ies when France was under influences of the WWII and the Nazis. Sherry empathetically captures the girl and the woman, Josephine, with great compassion and sympathy. It is rather unbelievable that in fact Sherry has never even met Josephine Baker, because she can picture her personality extremely accurate. And the language is so vivid and capturing – almost a ready-made movie manuscript. I would look forward to seeing this on a screen! Let Sherry Jones book be the continuation of Josephine Bakers fight for humanity, equal rights and love! Just read it! MATS WERNER Sweden

  4. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    A bio as stunning as Baker herself, written in poetic prose, researched meticulously, bringing to fabulous life this legend of stage, screen, civil rights, and spydom. 5 of 5 stars Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. Pub Date 04 Dec 2018. JosephineBaker’sLastDance #NetGalley

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    I must say I didn't know very much about Josephine Baker.  It wasn't until I read the short children's picture book biography in the Little People, Big Dreams series to my daughter that I learned she wasn't just an entertainer but a woman who fought for Civil Rights equality and joined the French Resistance to destroy Hitler during World War II. The short children's biography was so brief and yet I was fascinated!  When I found Josephine Baker's Last Dance on NetGalley earlier this year, I absolu I must say I didn't know very much about Josephine Baker.  It wasn't until I read the short children's picture book biography in the Little People, Big Dreams series to my daughter that I learned she wasn't just an entertainer but a woman who fought for Civil Rights equality and joined the French Resistance to destroy Hitler during World War II. The short children's biography was so brief and yet I was fascinated!  When I found Josephine Baker's Last Dance on NetGalley earlier this year, I absolutely had to request it. This book brings to life Baker's most monumental moments, beginning in childhood when her mother hired her out as a servant to white people in St. Louis.  She suffered abuse not only at the hands of the people she served but also her own mother and step-father. With an unstable home life, Josephine found herself living and sleeping with men when she was still a child.  Her love of music inspires her to perform and she begins touring with all black revues as a dancer.  She eventually makes her way to Paris, where she finds that segregation does not exist. Josephine's career explodes; she becomes the first black woman to dance nude on the Paris stage and the first to lead a movie and star in an opera.  Along the way she falls in love often and has a fierce sexual appetite, taking lovers in most cities she tours. When Hitler gains control in Germany, Josephine will not forget the Nazis who scared her in Berlin and vows to bring them down.  She's given the opportunity a few years later when she's recruited in to the French Resistance; collecting important information from the government officials who occupy her night clubs and hope to seduce her. Disgusted with segregation in America, Josephine refused to return to her home country to many years.  When she does return on tour, she is shocked to find nothing has changed and eventually chooses to dedicate her life to fighting prejudice. Josephine Baker's life was a whirlwind --- there are so many daring and thrilling things she did in her life from a troubled teen searching for affection she didn't receive at home, to flirtatious showgirl, to government spy, to Civil Rights activist! The amount of fame Baker had in Europe was astonishing.  She was the sweetheart of Paris who could do no wrong for a time and I can only compare it to the stardom of modern day pop stars like Britney Spears in the early 2000's. Powerfully written, at times brazen and always unapologetically truthful like the woman herself, Sherry Jones has documented both the triumphs and tragedies of Josephine Baker, the bold woman who was ahead of her time in every way. Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  Josephine Baker's Last Dance is scheduled for release on December 4, 2018. For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  6. 4 out of 5

    TL

    I received this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own. ---- Started off well but the writing fell off for me in the last third of the book except for a few instances. Josephine is an incredible lady and I will look her up more soon but this was a sort of dud book for me. Not a bad book ,just didn't click completely with this reader *shrugs* I received this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own. ---- Started off well but the writing fell off for me in the last third of the book except for a few instances. Josephine is an incredible lady and I will look her up more soon but this was a sort of dud book for me. Not a bad book ,just didn't click completely with this reader *shrugs*

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Why read a fictional biography? Sometimes, there is no choice: biographies may be out of date, or nonexistent. When they are available, they may be too linear to capture more than the facts, just the facts, ma'am. There are biographies of Josephine Baker, the "Black Pearl," if the reader wants to know who, what where, and when. I doubt there ever will be one that captures the wild energy, the passionate spirit, and the artistry that came together in this spectacular woman the way Sherry Jones has Why read a fictional biography? Sometimes, there is no choice: biographies may be out of date, or nonexistent. When they are available, they may be too linear to capture more than the facts, just the facts, ma'am. There are biographies of Josephine Baker, the "Black Pearl," if the reader wants to know who, what where, and when. I doubt there ever will be one that captures the wild energy, the passionate spirit, and the artistry that came together in this spectacular woman the way Sherry Jones has done. She has shown us the how and why, and filled in the spaces - the beauty and the ugliness, both - that underlay the public spectacle of the glittering international star. The Josephine Baker who sailed to Paris in 1925 had already powered through enough personal suffering and systemic racism to flatten most people. But, with unlimited talent and drive, she escaped initial rejections in the United States ("too skinny and too dark") by landing a job that took her to the integrated world of Paris. There, her breakthrough abandon and energy in "La Danse de Sauvage," clad only in a skirt made of faux bananas, brought artistic acclaim and access to all she ever wished for: the extravagant lifestyle, a starring role at the Folies Bergere, a film career. She searched endlessly for love while hobnobbing with Colette, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and the rest of the expatriates. Her dreams of Europe changed as Brownshirts and Nazis came to her shows and made their vicious intentions clear. A return to New York showed her that not even her fame could break through the racism, and she returned to Europe, disillusioned. She continued to sing and dance and act the role as an international sensation, but used her position to work as a spy and pilot for the Resistance, facing mortal danger in the name of freedom. After the war, she shifted her focus to challenge racial discrimination wherever her career took her, despite personal heartaches and ill health. Back in America, she forced nighclubs to integrate if they wanted her to sing, she called attention to African-Americans on Death Row who were victims of racist justice, and she participated in very public and challenging actions with the NAACP. The happiest day of her life, she said, was when she participated with Joan Baez and others, introducing Rev. Martin Luther King before he gave his speech, "I have a dream." Later, she created a Rainbow Tribe by adopting twelve children, demonstrating how beautiful a multi-ethnic world could be. All of the episodes in this gritty and granular novel are set as her memories during her last performance, celebrating fifty years of stardom in Paris. The reader will come away breathless with admiration for the power and energy of Josephine Baker's life, and how she used her fame to better the world. Watching videos on YouTube is a pale introduction to this groundbreaking woman. The reader's imagination will be well-served by this stunning novel. Five stars, because only five are available.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    While creating this book, I fell utterly in love with Josephine Baker, as did everyone who ever knew her. Langston Hughes. Bessie Smith. Hemingway. Colette. The King of Sweden. The Pasha of Marrakesh. The Prince of England. Louis Armstrong. Grace Kelly. Mick Jagger. The list goes on and on, and the reasons why become clear when you read JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE. When I finished it--after four years' research and writing--I wanted to do it all again, just to remain in Ms. Baker's bedazzling c While creating this book, I fell utterly in love with Josephine Baker, as did everyone who ever knew her. Langston Hughes. Bessie Smith. Hemingway. Colette. The King of Sweden. The Pasha of Marrakesh. The Prince of England. Louis Armstrong. Grace Kelly. Mick Jagger. The list goes on and on, and the reasons why become clear when you read JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE. When I finished it--after four years' research and writing--I wanted to do it all again, just to remain in Ms. Baker's bedazzling company. I've read JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE twice since getting the first printed copy in the mail, and relished every moment because Josephine. I've always said that I would live a life with no regrets, but now I have one: I never got to meet the glorious, stupendous, funny, smart, sassy, sexy, inspiring, charismatic Josephine Baker.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    I got this book on the recommendation of a friend, and since I didn't know much about Josephine Baker, I was excited to receive this ARC and dive in. Sigh. First, some of the problem is that I read a lot of nonfiction. A lot. So that when I pick up a historical fiction based on a real person, I have very high expectations due to all the great nonfiction/biographies that read. I know that biographical/historical fiction is just that - fiction that is based on a real person or times, but I still h I got this book on the recommendation of a friend, and since I didn't know much about Josephine Baker, I was excited to receive this ARC and dive in. Sigh. First, some of the problem is that I read a lot of nonfiction. A lot. So that when I pick up a historical fiction based on a real person, I have very high expectations due to all the great nonfiction/biographies that read. I know that biographical/historical fiction is just that - fiction that is based on a real person or times, but I still have a high expectation. And that was crushed with this book. I expected to learn a lot about Josephine Baker, and to be honest, I did. But the stuff I had to wade through to GET to the interesting parts of Ms. Baker's life was tedious at best and boring and flat at worst. The whole middle section of the book is essentially the same story over and over, just with different men and a different show. There was no effort to differentiate it in any way. Just the same story over and over and over again. Tedious and boring. The beginning and the the last few chapters [though not the last one] were what made this book get two stars from me. Ms. Baker's early life is nothing short of horrific and this is where the author does her best storytelling. You are right there in the horror of that horrific life and I cried over how Josephine was treated by those around her [and her siblings. Oh my gosh, what a horrible house to have had to grow up in]. It is in those scene's that you understand why she seeks approval from everyone she meets and from the men she cannot stay away from. It is when she goes to Paris that everything in the writing falls apart and the rest of the book becomes just one big jumble of men and the same story again and again. The last few chapters of the book, the ones that detail her work in the civil rights moment are very good and the author is back to the writing that was at the beginning -it was engaging and interesting and I learned quite a bit; I had no idea she was so influential in that movement and it was nice to learn about that. The very end though is very disappointing and I felt like the author just didn't really know how to end it and so she just wrote this lame ending and left it at that. It was very disappointing. There were so many unanswered questions and so many things that were brought up but never talked about fully - there was a lot of this story that is just never fleshed out so that the story just feels so incomplete most of the time. All this book did was make me want to seek out a really good biography of the life of Josephine Baker. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster Publishers for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    This was a riveting, well researched, fact based though slightly embellished account of the life of Josephine Baker from her childhood and beyond her rise to fame, becoming the highest paid black performer in the world. Since Josephine is no longer with us to be able to share her intimate thoughts, there was a good mix of story telling and facts. It held me captivated from start to finish as Josephine grew from a poverty stricken neglected child to a strong willed woman who stood along side MLK This was a riveting, well researched, fact based though slightly embellished account of the life of Josephine Baker from her childhood and beyond her rise to fame, becoming the highest paid black performer in the world. Since Josephine is no longer with us to be able to share her intimate thoughts, there was a good mix of story telling and facts. It held me captivated from start to finish as Josephine grew from a poverty stricken neglected child to a strong willed woman who stood along side MLK to fight for civil rights. I received an advance copy for review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tammy(PeaceLoveBooks)

    Josephine Baker's Last Dance was an entertaining and captivating read! Josephine Baker withstood so many obstacles in her life and those obstacles shaped her. Racism, segregation, poverty and sexual abuse. The author brought Josephine to life, showing us the real woman behind the public persona. I thoroughly enjoyed this one! Josephine Baker's Last Dance was an entertaining and captivating read! Josephine Baker withstood so many obstacles in her life and those obstacles shaped her. Racism, segregation, poverty and sexual abuse. The author brought Josephine to life, showing us the real woman behind the public persona. I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

  12. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    Josephine Baker is someone I had known about since my elementary school days more than 40 years ago, when I first saw her profile in a calendar celebrating what was then Black History Week. I was fascinated to learn that she had gone to Paris in 1925 and made herself into a superstar in France and across the world. "JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE" was given to me last month as a Christmas gift. The essence of the novel has as a centerpiece, what was Josephine Baker's last great stage performance i Josephine Baker is someone I had known about since my elementary school days more than 40 years ago, when I first saw her profile in a calendar celebrating what was then Black History Week. I was fascinated to learn that she had gone to Paris in 1925 and made herself into a superstar in France and across the world. "JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE" was given to me last month as a Christmas gift. The essence of the novel has as a centerpiece, what was Josephine Baker's last great stage performance in Paris in April 1975. The author uses it as a springboard to take the reader back to Josephine's early years in St. Louis, where she was born in poverty in 1906. I very much enjoyed seeing Josephine as she grew and matured. Hers was not an easy life. There is much in the novel that conveys the struggles and abuse that she endured. America was then an unwelcoming and at times, brutal and dispiriting place for its black citizens. Baker gets into vaudeville as a dancer in her mid-teens and eventually, the gateway to stardom opens and Josephine arrives in Paris with La Revue Nègre . The only part of the novel I found fault was its description of Josephine Baker's service in World War II as an intelligence agent and member of the French Resistance. The time sequences which covered the early war years seemed at times nebulous and compressed. If the reader had little or no knowledge of how the French defeat to Nazi Germany impacted the country in June 1940, he/she would be led to think that the resistance movement to the Germans developed overnight. That was not true at all. There was, initially disillusionment and fear when the Germans entered Paris - which had been declared an open city by the French government - on June 14, 1940 - and compelled the French to sign an armistice 8 days later. It would be several months to a year before an incipient resistance movement began to take shape in France as the Germans solidified their power and authority there. There was also a mention in the novel which indicated that Josephine Baker made the acquaintance of the courageous British spy Krystyna Skarbek, a Pole (aka 'Christine Granville') during the early days of the German Occupation. That is simply untrue. (I read a book in 2015 about Krystyna Skabek's wartime service --- 'Christine: SOE Agent & Churchill's Favourite Spy'. Krystyna Shabek did not get to France until the summer of 1944. Earlier, she had been engaged in espionage work since late 1939 in German-occupied Poland, the Balkans, and Egypt.) That is why I am taking away 1 star and giving "JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE" 3 stars. Outside of that glaring, historical inaccuracy, it is a very good novel which brought out the real Josephine Baker in so many interesting ways.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I heard about Josephine Baker in a novel I read back in May and decided to check this book out. I love this book, I like Sherry Jones's writing style. I'd like to learn more about Josephine Baker, maybe read some nonfiction about her. I'll definitely read more by Sherry Jones. I heard about Josephine Baker in a novel I read back in May and decided to check this book out. I love this book, I like Sherry Jones's writing style. I'd like to learn more about Josephine Baker, maybe read some nonfiction about her. I'll definitely read more by Sherry Jones.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    I love the 1920s, and I write historical fiction based on real characters myself, so I was very interested to read this book about Josephine Baker, the African-American dancer who was the toast of Paris in the 20s. This book was very readable. I wanted to keep turning pages. The author did a great job of making Josephine sympathetic early in the book, both by showing us how she suffered as the poor child of an unidentified father, a cold mother and a sporadically-employed stepfather, and by showi I love the 1920s, and I write historical fiction based on real characters myself, so I was very interested to read this book about Josephine Baker, the African-American dancer who was the toast of Paris in the 20s. This book was very readable. I wanted to keep turning pages. The author did a great job of making Josephine sympathetic early in the book, both by showing us how she suffered as the poor child of an unidentified father, a cold mother and a sporadically-employed stepfather, and by showing her determination to succeed and to be liked early on. But I felt that the book had a fundamental flaw: there was no story arc with rising tension. What Baker wanted early in her life was fame and fortune, and she achieved that very quickly. Then the story just devolved into Josephine did this, then she did that, then she did another thing, etc. She didn’t have an over-riding motivation that we could root for. She wants fame, she wants fortune, she falls in love at the drop of a hat. She wants equality with white people, she wants to (and does) help with the French Resistance in WWII. She’s supposed to want children (and she did adopt many children towards the end of her life), but it didn’t feel believable to me. Other things were going on, and then, almost randomly, she’d think, “Oh, I want children.” But then something else would come up and she never did anything about the family she supposedly wanted so badly until very late in the story. The desire for children felt very tacked on, and she was going so many different directions with other stuff that I didn’t know what to root for. That was actually probably true of Baker; the author well portrays her as a manically energetic woman. But it made the story go in so many different directions that none of them were explored deeply enough to capture my emotions. Like my reviews? Check out my blog at http://www.kathrynbashaar.com/blog/ Author of The Saint's Mistress: https://www.bing.com/search?q=amazon....

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dawnny

    A great look into the life of this amazing iconic woman. Her youth which was horrific but shaped her to be the strong woman she was. The many issues she faced from poverty, racism,and segregation. This book was an eye opening as I've read about Josephine before but never to this depth. This really takes you deep into her life. The good and the bad. It shows just how much Josephine had done in her life. Things most of us would never have known. We know the singer and dancer but she was so much mo A great look into the life of this amazing iconic woman. Her youth which was horrific but shaped her to be the strong woman she was. The many issues she faced from poverty, racism,and segregation. This book was an eye opening as I've read about Josephine before but never to this depth. This really takes you deep into her life. The good and the bad. It shows just how much Josephine had done in her life. Things most of us would never have known. We know the singer and dancer but she was so much more than that. A truly amazing read. Bittersweet. I was given a copy of this from the publisher for my honest review. Dawn Ruby-Book Gypsy Novels N Latte Book Blog Novels & Latte Book Club Hudson Valley NY

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    Before reading this, I knew very little about Josephine Baker other than the fact that she was an African American Parisian dancer who worked against the Nazis in WW2. This book is the reason I love biographical historical fiction more than straight biography. Not only is Baker brought to life, but her surroundings, her family, her (many) men, her amazing talent, and her place in history are so vivid and memorable that I feel truly enriched. An excellent read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shomeret

    I won Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones about two years ago through Goodreads Giveaways and I recently finished reading it. Yes, I know. I'm a disgrace. It's just that I tend to prioritize blog tours because I need to post on a definite date. Having a specific deadline works best for me. Goodreads Giveaways don't even require reviews. I still like to post reviews of those I won from that source when I have the time. The last time I reviewed a Goodreads Giveaway win, it was 2019, and I I won Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones about two years ago through Goodreads Giveaways and I recently finished reading it. Yes, I know. I'm a disgrace. It's just that I tend to prioritize blog tours because I need to post on a definite date. Having a specific deadline works best for me. Goodreads Giveaways don't even require reviews. I still like to post reviews of those I won from that source when I have the time. The last time I reviewed a Goodreads Giveaway win, it was 2019, and I reviewed it only on Goodreads. I've never read a novel about Josephine Baker. In fact, the only other one that I found online is a graphic novel . So Josephine Baker is an unusual subject for a novel. I had heard of her, and wanted to know more about her life. That's the reason I entered the Goodreads giveaway. Although Josephine Baker was born in the U.S., as a Black woman she couldn't be a great star in America during the first half of the 20th century, as she was in Paris. This is why she lived in Paris for almost her entire adult life. The French song that is most associated with her, "J'ai Deux Amours" expressed her affection for her two loves, her country and Paris. As a narrator, Sherry Jones commented that her country didn't love her back. When she was in the U.S. , Josephine had to contend with race prejudice and segregation. She wasn't immune to them because of her success in Paris. I could have loved Josephine Baker's Last Dance, though I did like what we were given very much. Josephine was really an extraordinary woman with great gifts that have lived on in the history of performing artists. Yet I did want to have more detail about her contributions in other areas. Perhaps another author will one day write that Josephine Baker novel. On that day, I will celebrate. For my complete review see https://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2020...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    4 stars I was looking for a book to read, and came across this one on overdrive. I hate to say this but I actually thought the book was going to be about Anita Baker, not Josephine Baker of whom I knew almost (well really nothing) about. But as soon as I read the blurp of the book, I knew, of course, it wasn't Anita Baker and I was interested to read the book about a woman that did so much. I really enjoyed the book, but it did have some flaws that impacted that level. The book had a repetitive f 4 stars I was looking for a book to read, and came across this one on overdrive. I hate to say this but I actually thought the book was going to be about Anita Baker, not Josephine Baker of whom I knew almost (well really nothing) about. But as soon as I read the blurp of the book, I knew, of course, it wasn't Anita Baker and I was interested to read the book about a woman that did so much. I really enjoyed the book, but it did have some flaws that impacted that level. The book had a repetitive feeling in the middle, I assume Josephine's life followed this path, but to read it ... Well, it was sort of boring in places. I don't often use that word, my Daddy said that only a small mind could be bored. Josephine's childhood was fitting with the time, very rough and difficult by today's standards, but shocking nonetheless. It is after her arrival in Paris that the book takes a turn and loses steam. I didn't get the "too young, too dark, too ugly" as I found her actually very attractive as did those in Paris. Once the threat of war is presented the pace and story both pick up. Based on her hard childhood I was not surprised at how brave she would be as an adult. Overall, I thought the book was quite interesting and well written (except for the middle). I am always slightly ashamed of being human what with how we are able to treat each other. The sense of entitlement we point out as so obvious now has been with us always. At any rate, if one is a reader of historical fiction and interested in the lives of others, then this might be a good choice for you. Happy Reading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jamckean

    I had never heard of Josephine Baker before reading this book, but I now understand that she was truly a force to be reckon with. The author takes readers on an incredible journey, following Josephine’s life from poverty to stardom, from working as a housekeeper in Missouri to performing as a showgirl in Paris. Not satisfied with just the limelight, Baker also became heavily involved in the WWII French Resistance and the Civil Rights movement. A fascinating story about a remarkable woman that I I had never heard of Josephine Baker before reading this book, but I now understand that she was truly a force to be reckon with. The author takes readers on an incredible journey, following Josephine’s life from poverty to stardom, from working as a housekeeper in Missouri to performing as a showgirl in Paris. Not satisfied with just the limelight, Baker also became heavily involved in the WWII French Resistance and the Civil Rights movement. A fascinating story about a remarkable woman that I highly recommend!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    fullsizeoutput_3869Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “Josephine Baker’s Last Dance” by Sherry Jones, Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster December 4, 2018 Sherry Jones , Author of “Josephine Baker’s Last Dance” has written an entertaining , engrossing, and intriguing Biographical Novel about Josephine Baker’s Last Dance. The author vividly describes the costume and makeup that Josephine Baker wore for her final performance. Surrounding this, the author takes the readers back to the past and introduces us fullsizeoutput_3869Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “Josephine Baker’s Last Dance” by Sherry Jones, Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster December 4, 2018 Sherry Jones , Author of “Josephine Baker’s Last Dance” has written an entertaining , engrossing, and intriguing Biographical Novel about Josephine Baker’s Last Dance. The author vividly describes the costume and makeup that Josephine Baker wore for her final performance. Surrounding this, the author takes the readers back to the past and introduces us to a young Josephine, who is abused, neglected and made to feel unwanted. Josephine was born of color in America and grew up in poverty . Instead of being at school, her mother had her work as a child domestic. Sherry Jones uses her creative imagination to fill in the spaces, and uses fiction to portray Josephine’s rise to popularity as a performer. Josephine was very young, energetic and hyper, and was extremely talented. Josephine traveled to France where she danced provocatively, and learned to sing. She was very popular around the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Although, Josephine didn’t finish school in America,, she did learn to fly an airplane, and during World War Two, she would fly supplies to help the Red Cross. I was surprised to learn that Josephine helped and worked for the French Resistance and worked hard to fight prejudice and worked for integration. The author sets the stage for the life of Josephine Baker and shows us how the world was made better because of her. I would recommend this Biographical novel to those readers who enjoy this genre.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    I think my only complaint would be that a large portion of the first half consists of Josephine "shaking/wiggling her ass;" like to a point where one who might not know her story would begin to think that's all she was capable of. (I looked up some videos and yes, that is basically what she did, but I feel like it could have been better described maybe.).It got to a point where I became a little bored because that's all she seemed to be doing every few pages. Other than that it was a really well I think my only complaint would be that a large portion of the first half consists of Josephine "shaking/wiggling her ass;" like to a point where one who might not know her story would begin to think that's all she was capable of. (I looked up some videos and yes, that is basically what she did, but I feel like it could have been better described maybe.).It got to a point where I became a little bored because that's all she seemed to be doing every few pages. Other than that it was a really well told story, part biography part novel Josephine Baker was fascinating; from everything she did during the war to afterwards. Even before, her fight to be more than what everyone expected was admirable. She knew what she wanted and did not stop until she got it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    I knew very little about Josephine Baker prior to read this except what I had seen once on Mysteries at the Museum (the event mentioned on that show is in the book as well). It was an interesting book, going back and forth in the beginning between present and past and gives an overall description of her origins and how she ended up the way she did.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lulu

    Very interesting and entertaining recap of Josephine Baker’s life. I’m not sure how much of it is true, considering this is historical fiction, but it’s definitely worth reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I knew very little about Josephine Baker going into this, but reading the book made me want to learn more about her and do some research on my own. As a novel, this is outstanding. Much of it is apparently fictionalized, but that's understood from the beginning and I didn't feel it detracted from the feel of the book in the least. I was a bit unsure about this before I read it, but I'm really glad I gave it a chance. I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I knew very little about Josephine Baker going into this, but reading the book made me want to learn more about her and do some research on my own. As a novel, this is outstanding. Much of it is apparently fictionalized, but that's understood from the beginning and I didn't feel it detracted from the feel of the book in the least. I was a bit unsure about this before I read it, but I'm really glad I gave it a chance.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Very interesting life and very interesting read. I knew the name but little else, so I didn't realize the important advancements she made for blacks and for women. Very interesting life and very interesting read. I knew the name but little else, so I didn't realize the important advancements she made for blacks and for women.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie ((Strazzybooks))

    “Josephine is une femme courageuse.” 3.5/5 I don’t know much about Josephine Baker and this was a great introduction to her, in a historical fiction format. I enjoyed this read and seeing the different stages of Baker’s life - from dance halls to helping the French resistance during WWII and everything in between. The amount of courage, drive, and passion she had was insane and inspiring. Some of the periods of her life were skipped over or were very brief in the book, but otherwise the book woul “Josephine is une femme courageuse.” 3.5/5 I don’t know much about Josephine Baker and this was a great introduction to her, in a historical fiction format. I enjoyed this read and seeing the different stages of Baker’s life - from dance halls to helping the French resistance during WWII and everything in between. The amount of courage, drive, and passion she had was insane and inspiring. Some of the periods of her life were skipped over or were very brief in the book, but otherwise the book would be another 100 pages. Baker did a lot in her life, and I’m interested in learning more about her.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shyiesha

    Excellent!!! A deeper look into the life of Josephine Baker. Her life was truly remarkable and this book does not disappoint in retelling her story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    I won this book on a goodreads giveaway. I did not know much about Jpsepjine Baker before this book arrived, but I learned she led a fascinating, if not interesting, scary incredible life. She was a pioneer, independent, incredible woman, who did things her own way, right or wrong. Without her persistant spirit, this world may have been quite different. One person can make a difference.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    Even though I love Old Hollywood, I'm embarrassed to say that I actually didn't know much about Josephine Baker before I read this book! I knew only a tiny handful of things, the main ones being that she was French and danced naked on stage. After reading this novel, though, I'm happy to have learned more about her. Not only that, but now I'm looking forward to looking more into her life and her work. Biographical novels are tricky because they either skip over a lot of "insignificant" time perio Even though I love Old Hollywood, I'm embarrassed to say that I actually didn't know much about Josephine Baker before I read this book! I knew only a tiny handful of things, the main ones being that she was French and danced naked on stage. After reading this novel, though, I'm happy to have learned more about her. Not only that, but now I'm looking forward to looking more into her life and her work. Biographical novels are tricky because they either skip over a lot of "insignificant" time periods, or they include far too much. I found JBLD to be a mixture of both. In some ways, the seemingly most interesting parts were cut out with the more tedious details drawing the whole reading process out a bit more. For example, when did Josephine's abortion when she was 13 take place? Why was there NOTHING even alluding to it earlier? Also, Josephine's bisexuality was cut out almost entirely? Affairs with women were referred to with very vague, roundabout references, and it would've been nice for the author to include Josephine's process with acknowledging her bisexuality. How many historical fiction books have a main character who's a woman of color and LGBT+? Not many. So the novel seems to take pieces of her life and patch them together willy-nilly without much regard for where the pieces in the puzzle all go. The book was interesting, but I'm not sure I'd read it again. That being said, I'd recommend it because of the subject herself, Ms. Josephine Baker. What a unique, wonderful woman who was so far ahead of her time in her activism, her work, and her beliefs.

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