A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, February 18, 2019

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENTS: Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones- Feature and Review


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.



Josephine Baker's Last DanceJosephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.





Sherry Jones is an American journalist and internationally best selling author of the controversial "The Jewel of Medina" and other historical fiction novels about women's power. She is also a speaker on issues including women's rights, free speech, and Islamophobia.

Her forthcoming novel, JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE, features as its protagonist the 20th-century African-American entertainer Josephine Baker, who was born in the slums of St. Louis, made her fame on the Paris stage at 19, worked as a spy during WWII, and became an important civil rights activist in the United States. A comedian, nude dancer, chanteuse, opera diva, and film star, she was the highest-paid black performer in the world.

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