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Black Rose [School & Library Binding]

Tananarive Due
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2001 0613362268 978-0613362269
Born to former slaves on a Louisiana plantation in 1867, Madam C.J. Walker rose from poverty and indignity to become America's first black female millionaire, the head of a hugely successful beauty company, and a leading philanthropist in African American causes. Renowned author Alex Haley became fascinated by the story of this extraordinary heroine, and before his death in 1992, he embarked on the research and outline of a major novel based on her life. Now with The Black Rose, critically acclaimed writer Tananarive Due brings Haley's work to an inspiring completion.

Blending documented history, vivid dialogue, and a sweeping fictionalized narrative, Tananarive Due paints a vivid portrait of this passionate and tenacious pioneer and the unforgettable era in which she lived.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

An entrepreneur and an innovator in African-American hair care became the first black female millionaire in America. The life of this historical figure, born Sarah Breedlove, was researched heavily by Alex Haley and proves to be a rich subject for Due, who relied on interviews, letters and other data compiled by the late author of Roots. The strong-willed heroine was born in Delta, La., in the 1860s to sharecropper parents, and was orphaned at age seven. Sarah and her older sister, Lou, find employment as washerwomen for a spirited black woman who runs a laundry business in Vicksburg, Miss. At 14, Sarah marries a good man, but when he is brutally killed, she and her daughter, Lelia, are nearly destitute, until Sarah starts her own laundry business in St. Louis. Sarah works hard for years before stumbling upon the "miracle" ingredientAsulfurAthat cures her painful, itching scalp and promotes hair growth. Perfecting her increasingly popular concoction, she turns her kitchen into a production line/beauty parlor. After she marries flashy adman C.J. Walker, a nationwide ad campaign turns Madam C.J. Walker into a household name, the business funding a beauty college where women ("black roses") are trained to care for African-American hair. Walker gains entry to the black elite and extraordinary material wealth, yet the same toil that builds her business leads to personal heartbreak and cuts her life short. The author of two supernatural thrillers (My Soul to Keep; The Between), Due's leap into historical fiction is accomplished and enlivened by rich characterizations. A few flash-forward scenes necessary for the story's irony or suspense barely halt the polished pacing and keen-eared dialogue as this dramatic rags-to-riches narrative moves briskly toward a bittersweet end. Agent, John Hawkins. Sample chapter distributed through select African-American beauty salons nationwide; 5-city author tour. (June) FYI: Due's own grandmother was a graduate of the Madam C.J. Walker School of Beauty Culture.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-A fictionalized account of Madame C. J. Walker's riveting life as researched by Alex Haley prior to his death. Born Sarah Breedlove, Walker rose from an uneducated laundress to a woman of wealth. She was an ingenious and brilliant entrepreneur who created numerous hair and beauty products for women; however, she is most renowned for her invention of "the pressing comb" which allowed black women to relax their hair. Black leaders such as Booker T. Washington often sought her support both financially and as a community leader. Her legacy is reflective in many of the writings of Langston Hughes. Moreover, Walker was known as an elegant public speaker, and often commenced her speeches with the well-known one-liner, "I got my start by giving myself a start." Accordingly, the "Black Rose" (a phrase coined by Walker) believed that if an individual worked hard she could achieve her goals and much more. Wealth and notoriety came with a price, however: personal sacrifice and loss. Teen readers will love this fascinating novel.
ayo dayo, Chinn Park Regional Library, Prince William, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable tale Feb. 1 2003
Format:Paperback
I've read much about Madame Walker and how she created an empire through sheer determination and hard work, yet most of these accounts don't give a whole lot of insight into Sarah Breedlove McWilliams Walker, the person behind the legend. Madame Walker's life is such an awe-inspiring one that you can hardly blame her biographers if they seemed to focus mainly on her business accomplishments. But there was so much more to her. I understand that this is historical fiction, and as such, certain instances and characters are fabricated, but the gist of the book is based on research completed by Alex Haley. Still there are certain things that remain unknown about the great lady.
Because this is a novel, it allowed the author to create dialogue and situations that may not have actually happened to Madame Walker, but were certainly possiblities for Black women during that time period. The slights from other Black folks who thought themselves superior to the former laundress, the incident with the White men who accosted her when she was alone at the train station, pulling a gun on her cheating husband in a hotel room with his other woman, these incidents may not have occured to Madame Walker as described by Due, but these situations help flesh out the story.
Madame Walker believed in herself and in the worthiness of Black women when no one else did. Unlike other wealthy women of that era, Madame was a self-made millionaire. Her wealth didn't come from marriage or inheritance, and she helped other women make their own money along the way. Despite all this, there were those who held her in disdain either because of her humble beginnings or because they thought that she was only trying to get Black women to straighten their hair.
Tananarive Due is an wondrous storyteller, and this book will impress upon the reader just how remarkable Madam Walker really was.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Black Rose" - An Inspirational Story July 27 2001
Format:Paperback
[Note: This review originally appeared August 14, 2000, in the Seattle Times and is available online at ...P>This skillful biographical novel is about a woman who could have shown Horatio Alger what it really means to start with less than nothing and succeed against all odds by means of perseverance, imagination, talent, and generosity.
In "The Black Rose," Longview author Tananarive Due ("My Soul to Keep") has traced the career of Madame C. J. Walker, America's first black millionaire. Due based her narrative on research that Alex Haley had gathered for a book on Walker, which he planned to write in the style of "Roots" but failed to finish before his death.
Madame Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Delta, Louisiana, to former slaves. When her parents died of yellow fever (she was only seven), she and her sister moved to Mississippi and found work doing laundry for white people. Later Sarah married and gave birth to a daughter, Lelia, then was widowed when her beloved husband was killed for protesting against injustices at work.
For fourteen years, during an era of violent prejudice against black people, Sarah worked as a washerwoman, eventually moving to St. Louis in search of a better life for Lelia. Sarah had always been intrigued by small businesses, from one-man fish stands to laundries that jobbed out their services. And she was a problem-solver. One day she bought an ointment that failed to ease a painful scalp condition, and it happened just when she'd begun worrying about teenaged Lelia's poor self-image in a world of white beauty standards.
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Format:Paperback
I have a new heroine. Not only did she rise above being black in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but also she rose above being a black woman to become America's first female millionaire. It's an incredible story.
Her name is Madame C. J. Walker and her story is fictionalized in Tananarive Due's historical novel, The Black Rose. Based on the research and an extensive outline complete by famed author Alex Haley before his death in 1992, Due weaves a fascinating account of Walker and her times.
Madam C. J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove to freed blacks in 1867. Sarah is proud that she is learning to read and write, and dreams of reading her mother's Bible and someday attending college. Her dreams are crushed when her parents, now tenant farmers on the same Delta, Louisiana, farm where they were once slaves, die of yellow fever in 1874. Eight-year-old Sarah and her siblings are left to struggle for survival on their own. By 1878, the crops were failing and their shack was all but falling down. A year later, Sarah and her sister, Lou, move to Vicksburg, Mississippi, to become washerwomen.
The work is grueling but mind numbing. At 14, Sarah marries Moses McWilliams, a man she grows to love with all her heart, but who is killed less than a year later in one of Mississippi's infamous race riots. Devastated and left with a daughter, Lelia, to care for, Sarah moves to St. Louis. Life there is hard, but Sarah still dreams of college, of learning to read without having to struggle with each word. She has her own washing service and begins to save money so that Lelia can someday have the education she was categorically denied.
St. Louis' Annie Malone begins a beauty supply business, hiring black women as representatives to sell the products door-to-door.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring.....
I enjoyed reading this book - I had put it off for a long time for some reason, but I'm glad I finally sat down & read it. Read more
Published on March 22 2004 by T. Kenard
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Amazing!
I waited a year before I read this book, I deeply regret this.
I was absolutely amazed at the way this book was written. I couldn't put this book down until it was completed! Read more
Published on March 6 2003 by Natalie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fictionalized - yet informative
Many historians think that fictionalized accounts are useless. Being a historian myself, I have to beg to differ in this case. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2001 by Candace
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable job well done
I have read each of Tananarive Due's books and have enjoyed them immensely. This account of Madame CJ Walker's life was such an enjoyable read. I am thankful that Ms. Read more
Published on April 16 2001 by Cheryl Black
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Rose
Prior to reading this book,I knew very little about Madame C.J. Walker. I knew she became wealthy after starting a hair product company, but after that often told fact,I didn't... Read more
Published on April 8 2001 by "goodwitchglenda"
4.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL HISTORICAL FICTION!
This is an excellent, fictionalized novel about Sarah Breedlove, later famously known as Madame C.J. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Tanarive gives Madame C. J. Walker her "just Dues"
I had often read small biographies of Madame C.J. Walker, especially when Black History Month rolled around. Tanarive Due, however, brought Sarah stunningly alive. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2000 by Evelyn P. Council
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
The Black Rose was ok, at the beginning, but I felt more could have been done toward the middle and the end to make it better.
Published on Nov. 8 2000 by "July Lady"
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Black Rose
The Black Rose is the perfect title for this beautiful novel by one of America's finest writers. Tananarive Due is awesome! Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2000 by Lisa A. Shepherd
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful fictionalized account of a truly great woman.
I was interested in this book when I read the reviews a few months ago. And then it became a pick for my book club so I purchased it last month and read it straight through. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2000 by Dera R Williams
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