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When Regina Burns married Blue Hamilton, she knew he was no ordinary man. A charismatic R&B singer who gave up his career to assume responsibility for the safety of Atlanta's West End community, Blue had created an African American urban oasis where crime and violence were virtually nonexistent. In the beginning, Regina enjoyed a circle of engaging friends and her own work as a freelance communications consultant. Most of all, she relished the company of her husband, who never ceased to be a source of passion and delight. Then everything changed. More and more frightened women were showing up in West End, seeking Blue's protection from lovers who had suddenly become violent. When the worst offenders begin to disappear without a trace, the signs-all of them grim-seem to point toward Blue and his longtime associate, Joseph "General" Richardson. Now that Regina is pregnant, her fear for Blue's safety has become an obsession that threatens the very heart of their relationship. At the same time, Regina's friend Aretha Hargrove is desperately trying to redefine her own marriage. Aretha's husband, Kwame, is lobbying for them to leave West End and move to midtown. Aretha resists at first, but finally agrees in an effort to rekindle the flame that first brought them together. Regina and Aretha have no way of knowing that what they regard as their private struggles will soon become very public. When Baby Brother, a charming con man, insinuates himself into the community, it becomes clear that there is more to his handsome façade than meets the eye. He carries the seeds of change that will affect both women in profound and startling ways. Returning to the vividly rendered Atlanta district of her last two novels, New York Times bestselling author Pearl Cleage brilliantly weaves the threads of her characters' intersecting lives into a story of family, friendship and, of course, love. Baby Brother's Blues is full of wit and warmth, illumination the core of every woman's hopes and dreams. From the Hardcover edition.
Catherine Sanderson seems to have it all: a fulfilling career helping immigrant women find jobs, a lovely home, and a beautiful, intelligent daughter on her way to Smith College. What Catherine doesn't have: a father for her child- and she's spent many years dodging her daughter's questions about it. Now Phoebe is old enough to start poking around on her own. It doesn't help matters that the mystery man, B.J. Johnson--the only man Catherine has ever loved--doesn't even know about Phoebe. He's been living in Africa. Now B.J., a renowned newspaper correspondent, is back in town and needs Catherine's help cracking a story about a female slavery ring operating right on the streets of Atlanta. Catherine is eager to help B.J., despite her heart's uncertainty over meeting him again after so long, and confessing the truth to him--and their daughter. Meanwhile, Catherine's hands are more than full since she's taken on a new client. Atlanta's legendary Miss Mandeville--a housekeeper turned tycoon--is eager to have Catherine staff her housekeeping business. But why are the steely Miss Mandeville and her all-too-slick sidekick Sam so interested in Catherine's connection to B.J.? What transpires is an explosive story that takes her world--not to mention the entire city of Atlanta--by storm. From the New York Times bestselling author of What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day comes another fast-paced and emotionally resonant novel, by turns warm and funny, serious and raw. Pearl Cleage's ability to create a gripping story centered on strong, spirited black women and the important issues they face remains unrivaled.
Since Joyce Mitchell was widowed five years ago, she's kept herself occupied by running the Sewing Circus, an all-girl group she founded to provide badly needed services to young women at risk, many of whom are single mothers. But some nights, home alone, she has to admit that something is missing. And soon she may not even have the Sewing Circus to fill up her life, as the state legislature has decided not to fund the group.Feeling defeated and pessimistic, Joyce reluctantly agrees to dinner at the home of her best friend, Sister, and finds not only a perfect meal but a tall, dark stranger named Nate Anderson. His unexpected presence touches a chord in Joyce that she thought her heart had forgotten how to play.Suddenly, Joyce feels ready to grab a sexy red dress and the life that goes with it . . . if she can keep her girls safe from the forces--useless boyfriends and government agencies--alike against them.
Familiar faces and places meet fresh twists and turns in this enthralling novel from acclaimed author Pearl Cleage. Atlanta's West End district has always been a haven and home to a coterie of unique characters--artists and thinkers, dreamers and doers. Folks here know one another's names, keep their doors unlocked, and look out for their neighbors. Anyone planning to sell drugs, vandalize, or rob a little old lady should think twice before hitting this part of town. And Blue Hamilton, West End's unofficial mayor and longtime protector, will see to it that you do. Blue wears many hats here, including adored husband to Regina, dear nephew to Abbey, and doting father to Sweetie and another little one on the way. Blue is also the man you pay your respects to if you're looking to set up shop in this urban enclave--just ask Serena Mayflower, whom Blue sees striding down Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard wearing skin-tight black leather pants, thigh-high boots, and bright red lipstick. This tall, slender, ethereally beautiful woman and her four equally striking sisters make up the Too Fine Five, a quintet of international supermodels who have arrived in town for an Essence magazine photo shoot. But Blue's gut tells him that there's more to these Mayflower mademoiselles than their affection for full moons and Bloody Marys. With the help of his beloved Regina and their close friends and relations in West End, Blue vows to uncover the women's secret intentions--and prove once and for all that there is no greater force on earth than the power of love. A mesmerizing slice of not-so-everyday life, brimming with wicked wit and spiced with a few supernatural surprises, Just Wanna Testify showcases Pearl Cleage's masterly storytelling at its soulful and satisfying finest.From the Hardcover edition.
For Josephine Evans, home was on the stages of the world where she spent thirty years establishing herself as one of the finest actresses of her generation. Josephine was the toast of Europe, and her fabulous apartment in Amsterdam's theater district was a popular gathering place for an international community of artists, actors, and expatriates who considered themselves true citizens of the world. Josephine lived above and beyond the reach of conventional definitions of who and what an African American diva could be, and her legions of loyal fans loved her for it. She had a perfect life and enough sense to live it to the hilt, but then a war she didn't fully understand turned everything upside down, thrusting her into a role she never wanted and was not prepared to play. Suddenly the target of angry protests aimed at the country she had never really felt was her own, Josephine is forced to return to America to see if she can create a new definition of home. Camping out with her granddaughter, Zora, who is housesitting in Atlanta's West End; and trying to avoid the unwanted attentions of Dig It!, the city's brand-new gossip magazine, Josephine struggles to reclaim her old life even as she scrambles to shape her new one. Hoping her friend Howard Denmond is as good as his word when he promises to engineer her triumphant return to the European stage, Josephine sets out to increase her nest egg by selling the house her mother willed her, only to find the long-neglected property has become home to squatters who have no intention of leaving. But an unexpected reunion with an old friend offers Josephine a chance to set things right. Spurning an offer from unscrupulous land developer Greer Woodruff, Josephine gathers new friends around her, including Victor Causey, a lawyer whose addictions left him homeless but still determined to protect his mother; Louie Baptiste, a displaced New Orleans chef hoping to return to the city he loves; and Aretha Hargrove, recovering from her role in the same scandal that sent Zora running for cover. As Greer gets serious about her plan to tear the community apart, Josephine finds herself playing the most important role of her life, showing her neighbors what courage really is and learning the true meaning of coming home. From the Hardcover edition.
Regina Burns is either on the edge of a nervous breakdown or an overdue breakthrough. One shattered heart and six months of rehab have left her wary - especially with the prospect of taking a temporary consulting job in Atlanta for the woman who broke up her wedding plans because Regina wasn't good enough for her son. But Regina has sixty days to settle her debts or lose her family home.
In addition to being one of the most popular living playwrights in America, Pearl Cleage is a bestselling author with an Oprah Book Club pick and multiple awards to her credit, but there was a time when such stellar success seemed like a dream. In this revelatory and deeply personal work, Cleage takes readers back to the 1970s and '80s, retracing her struggles to hone her craft amid personal and professional tumult. Though born and raised in Detroit, it was in Atlanta that Cleage encountered the forces that would most shape her experience. At the time, married to Michael Lomax, now head of the United Negro College Fund, she worked with Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's first African-American mayor. Things I Should Have Told My Daughter charts not only the political fights but also the pull she began to feel on her own passions--a pull that led her away from Lomax as she grappled with ideas of feminism and self-fulfillment. This fascinating memoir follows her journey from a columnist for a local weekly to a playwright and Hollywood scriptwriter whose circle came to include luminaries Richard Pryor, Avery Brooks, Phylicia Rashad, Shirley Franklin, and Jesse Jackson. In the tradition of giants such as Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, and Maya Angelou, Cleage's self-portrait raises women's confessional writing to the level of fine literature.
From the acclaimed Pearl Cleage, author of What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day . . . and Seen It All and Done the Rest, comes an Obama-era romance featuring a cast of unforgettable characters. Just when it appears that all her hard work on Barack Obama's presidential campaign is about to pay off with a White House job, thirty-five-year-old Ida B. Wells Dunbar finds herself on Washington, D.C.'s post-election sidelines even as her twentysomething counterparts overrun the West Wing. Adding to her woes, her father, the Reverend Horace A. Dunbar, Atlanta civil rights icon and self-described "foot soldier for freedom," is notoriously featured on an endlessly replayed YouTube clip in which his pronouncements don't exactly jibe with the new era in American politics. The Rev's stinging words and myopic views don't sound anything like the man who raised Ida to make her mark in the world. When friends call to express their concern, Ida realizes it's time to head home and see for herself what's going on. Besides, with her job prospects growing dimmer, getting out of D.C. for a while might be the smartest move she could make. Back in her old West End neighborhood, Ida runs into childhood friend and smooth political operator Wes Harper, also in town to pay a visit to the Reverend Dunbar, his mentor. Ida doesn't trust Wes or his mysterious connections for one second, but she can't deny her growing attraction to him. While Ida and the Rev try to find the balance between personal loyalties and political realities, they must do some serious soul searching in order to get things back on track before Wes permanently derails their best laid plans. From the Hardcover edition.
For centuries, African American women have been remaking the world, giving testament to the power of hope, courage, and resilience. But it took the inspired generosity of Oprah Winfrey to honor fully the many gifts of sisterhood. For three amazing days-from May 13 to 15, 2005--a distinguished group of women was invited to celebrate the enduring achievements of twenty-five of their mentors and role models--and in the process pay tribute to the long, glorious tradition of African American accomplishment. The brilliant centerpiece of the weekend was the reading aloud of Pearl Cleage's poem "We Speak Your Names," written especially for the occasion and appearing here for the first time in this beautiful keepsake book. As deeply moving in print as it was during that weekend of love and praise, the poem names each of the women honored: Dr. Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King, Diahann Carroll, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Rosa Parks, Katherine Dunham, and other legends of the brightest magnitude. With heartfelt eloquence, Pearl Cleage (herself a luminary of the younger generation) celebrates her distinguished elders' strength, their magic, their sensuality, their loving kindness, their faith in themselves, and the priceless example of their lives. In her introduction, the poet shares: "My sisters, here, there, and everywhere, this poem is for you. Use it, adapt it, pass it on..." Destined to become a classic, We Speak Your Names is a treasure to keep forever and a precious, inspiring gift for the ones you love.
After a decade of elegant pleasures and luxe living with the Atlanta brothers and sisters with the best clothes and biggest dreams, Ava Johnson has temporarily returned home to Idlewild--her fabulous career and power plans smashed to bits by cold reality. But what she imagines to be the end is, instead, a beginning. Because, in the ten-plus years since Ava left, all the problems of the big city have come to roost in the sleepy North Michigan community whose ordinariness once drove her away; and she cannot turn her back on friends and family who sorely need her in the face of impending trouble and tragedy. Besides which, that one unthinkable, unmistakable thing is now happening to her: Ava Johnson is falling in love. Acclaimed playwright, essayist, New York Times bestselling author, and columnist Pearl Cleage has created a world rich in character, human drama, and deep, compassionate understanding, in a remarkable novel that sizzles with sensuality, hums with gritty truth, and sings and crackles with life-affirming energy.
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