Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful

Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful

by Susan Fales-Hill, Scott Brick
     
 

Growing up with a black, Auntie Mame -- like mother who performed with the likes of Lena Horne and Alvin Ailey, and a WASP seafaring father, Susan Fales-Hill thought nothing of watching her mother, Josephine Premice, perform in an acclaimed Broadway musical one moment and fleeing to Faleton, her grandparents' summer estate, the next.

But it was from her mother --

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Overview

Growing up with a black, Auntie Mame -- like mother who performed with the likes of Lena Horne and Alvin Ailey, and a WASP seafaring father, Susan Fales-Hill thought nothing of watching her mother, Josephine Premice, perform in an acclaimed Broadway musical one moment and fleeing to Faleton, her grandparents' summer estate, the next.

But it was from her mother -- a woman who was dressed by Givenchy and sculpted by Alexander Calder, yet rejected by many a casting agent for her "dark," unconventional looks -- that Susan drew inspiration, particularly when she faced challenges in her own career as a television writer in Hollywood, a town that wasn't always receptive to positive images of people of color. As a result, the two developed a bond that mothers and daughters everywhere will find inspiring.

Dazzling in their public lives and emotionally vulnerable in their private lives, there is not a person in this touching and, at times, funny family memoir that the reader will soon forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The late, Haitian-born Josephine Premice lived an extraordinary life, performing as a dancer, singer, and actress in nightclubs, theaters, and TV shows. Her daughter, Fales-Hill, a successful TV writer and producer, still draws inspiration from her memory and here chronicles those colorful experiences. Josephine's early passion for dance led her to study with Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham, and in 1943 she launched her career at Carnegie Hall, with Eleanor Roosevelt as a patron. Over the course of 50 years, Josephine performed with fellow stars and friends, including Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Eartha Kitt, and Alvin Ailey and starred on Broadway. Her unconventional marriage to the heir of an aristocratic WASP family took her to Paris and Rome, as she balanced her stage career with her role as devoted wife and mother. A painful separation from her husband and serious health problems in her later years did not diminish Josephine's glamour and love of life. Fales-Hill brings to life her mother's joyful personality on the pages of this warm and charming book. Recommended for theater arts and black history collections.-Howard Miller, St. Louis, MO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Television writer/producer Fales-Hill recalls her mother, a Haitian-American musical legend who gave up her career for marriage, in one of those rare tributes that capture exactly what made someone widely loved and admired. Mixing family history with her own recollections, the author begins with her parents� marriage in 1958. Josephine Premice, the Brooklyn-bred daughter of well-born and cultured Haitians, was appearing in the musical Jamaica when she met wealthy WASP Timothy Fales, an iconoclast who loved literature and reading but left Harvard to go to sea. The two married and moved to Rome; Josephine gave up her career to become a devoted mother. The couple knew everybody from Harry Belafonte to Richard Burton, and when they moved back to New York in 1963, their home became a lively salon for black and white intellectuals and actors. The children went to a French school and spent summers on the Fales family estate. These idyllic times ended in 1985, the year Susan graduated from Harvard, when her father moved to Paris and took up with the first in a succession of other women. Josephine stayed home putting on a brave front. Despite bad breaks, she strove to be upbeat, well-dressed, and "semper fabulous"; in the late �90s, she turned her own mother�s death from emphysema into a performance worthy of the greatest diva. The author affectingly describes all the good and bad moments. Her poignant tale of an unusual woman and an unusual marriage also quietly but eloquently indicts blacks and whites who continue to think stereotypically. At Harvard, Fales-Hill was called an "incognegro" by black students because she associated with whites; Josephine, who had a stellar resume, was by the 1980sconsidered too elegant and well-spoken for TV movies that wanted fat black women talking trash. A distinguished memoir as well as an important contribution to black cultural history. Agent: Suzanne Gluck/William Morris
Essence
“[An] extraordinary story.”
Vogue
“A daughter’s ode to her mother who showed her ‘infinity instead of . . .limitations.’ This is no Mommie Dearest.”
Town & Country
“Moving and beautifully rendered.”
Bill Cosby
“At last, at last a memoir by a daughter who appreciates and loves her mother, at last.”
Andre Leon Talley
“A daughter’s ode to her mother who showed her ‘infinity instead of . . .limitations.’ This is no Mommie Dearest.”
Malachy McCourt
“This love-filled, uplifting book will gladden your heart, moisten your eyes, and leave you smiling at the end.”
E. Lynn Harris
“A moving tribute from a daughter to a mother [and] a book about the undefeatable spirit of black women everywhere.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781419327452
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
07/11/2005

What People are saying about this

Malachy McCourt
“This love-filled, uplifting book will gladden your heart, moisten your eyes, and leave you smiling at the end.”
E. Lynn Harris
“A moving tribute from a daughter to a mother [and] a book about the undefeatable spirit of black women everywhere.”
Andre Leon Talley
“A daughter’s ode to her mother who showed her ‘infinity instead of . . .limitations.’ This is no Mommie Dearest.”
Bill Cosby
“At last, at last a memoir by a daughter who appreciates and loves her mother, at last.”

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