Cover image for Nappily ever after
Nappily ever after
Thomas, Trisha R., 1964-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown Publishers, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 275 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What happens when you toss tradition out the window and really start living for yourself? Venus Johnston has a great job, a beautiful home, and a loving live-in boyfriend named Clint, who happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous doctor. She has a weekly beauty-parlor date with Tina, who keeps Venus's long, processed hair slick and straight.  Ever since childhood, the tedious hours in the salon and the harsh, burning chemicals have grated on Venus, and increasingly she dreams of cutting off her beautiful "good" hair. When her boyfriend keeps balking at commitment, and the thought of another hour at the salon is just too much, Venus decides to give it up -- all of it. She trades in the long hair for a dramatically short, natural cut and sends Clint packing. It's a bold declaration of independence -- and one that has effects she never could have imagined. Reactions from friends and coworkers range from concern to contempt to outright condemnation. When Clint moves on and starts dating a voluptuous, long-haired beauty, Venus is forced to question what she really wants out of life. With wit, resilience, and a lot of determination, she finally learns what true happiness is . . . on her own terms. In the bestselling style of Eric Jerome Dickey, Bebe Moore Campbell, and Terry McMillan, Nappily Ever After captures the hopes, dreams, and conflicts of the contemporary African-American woman. It's a delicious story told with style, savvy, and humor -- a novel that marks the debut of a fresh new voice in fiction.

Author Notes

Trisha R. Thomas lives in Seattle, Washington.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Venus Johnson has been cultivating a relationship with Clint Fairchild, supporting him through medical school and hoping to end up as a doctor's wife. But at 34 she's run out of patience with Clint's reluctance to commit. She ends their relationship and sheds her shoulder-length, chemically straightened hair in a bold act of liberation. But the less than encouraging reactions from friends and colleagues leave her pondering the politics of hair and beauty. Venus puts her considerable energy into her career as an advertising executive, hoping Clint will come to his senses. Clint struggles to find spiritual support to get through his internship and finds solace in Kandi Treboe, a long-haired beauty eager to take up where Venus has left off. When Venus is threatened by a stalker, she realizes that her personal insecurities and career woes accentuate a need to discover who she is and what she wants. Thomas offers painful but amusing insights into the politics of beauty, black culture, and male-female relationships; her first novel places her in a league with Terry MacMillan and Bebe Moore Campbell. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

African-American advertising agency executive Venus Johnston has had enough. Enough of the painful, expensive hours spent relaxing her "good" hair and enough of her four-year relationship with medical intern Clint Fairchild, which has lasted too long without a ring. She shaves her hair to a quarter-inch stubble, tells Clint to pack his bags and spends the rest of Thomas's empowering debut novel building a new life to match the new woman she's become. Clint, on the rebound, meets beautiful, longhaired and marriage-ready Kandi Treboe and proposes on an impulse, despite evidence that he's not over Venus. Meanwhile, Venus confronts issues of sexual harassment and racism in her predominantly white Washington, D.C., firm, where she begins to receive threatening notes. The crisis at work fuels Venus's fears that she's not strong enough to survive her new freedom. Has she made a mistake by abandoning the security of her boyfriend and her long, straight hair? Kandi develops into a complex character, with her own set of concerns and a sense of humor about the lovers' triangle. Her perspective provides an interesting counterpoint to Venus's obsession with the consuming culture surrounding black women's hair. Clint's confusion over his choice between the two women is treated honestly, and Venus's discovery that she has moved to new psychological territory carries emotional weight. This exploration of an African-American woman's journey to self-acceptance is not without flaws (spotty writing and loose ends tied up too fast), but Thomas refuses to let her characters slide into stereotype, and she keeps the pace fast and funny. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Clint took a deep breath. His mind was racing with thoughts of his soon-to-be bride, the woman he'd spend the rest of his life with. He let a sheepish grin rise on his face when he pictured hers, overcome with emotion when she pulled the silver ribbon and opened the box to the book of love poems that said all that he could not. That was one of the things he adored about her. The simplest acts of kindness brought joy to her--toast and coffee on a morning tray, an unexpected lunch date that neither one of them really had time for. He thought about the time he'd borrowed the out-of-production Angela Bofill album from a friend and made a tape, placing it in her cassette player so that "I'm on Your Side" would be the first thing she heard when she started the car. He had watched her as she tried to ward off the impending tears. He was proud to have that kind of power over her. To know so easily how to make her fall in love with him again and again was like being the richest man in the world. She didn't need master plans with attached instructions. Like Clint, all she wanted was to be loved unconditionally and, on occasion, to be shown how much. He looked out on the audience that was gathering to witness their unity, sisters wearing brights and pastels on their various tints of dark satin skin, brothers walking around clean and polished like a brigade of Farrakhan soldiers, everybody trying to outdo everybody else. Even the babies were wrapped up like dolls in the toy store, wearing their little bonnets and pink ruffles. And him, standing in the sweltering humidity, dressed in black tails, glossy black patent leather shoes, and a grin-and-bear-it smile, making him feel like the lone black male model in the pages of the Sears catalog. Clint shook the hands of relatives he didn't know by sight, repeating the same thing over and over because he didn't have much else to say except "thanks for coming" and "good to see you all." Kissing aunts who still called him Baby Blue, a nickname that reminded him of the shame he used to feel for being one of the darkest little boys on Ames Street. His just reward was that now his smooth midnight skin was deemed one of his best qualities; seductive, smoldering, even the word elegant had been used to describe him. He didn't like to harp on the flattery he'd received from women over the years, but it quieted the fires that would still erupt every now and then in his mind, the childhood memories of feeling inferior because of the blackness of his skin. Clint shifted slightly. His lean tall body stood erect like the rest of the props, the pew, the arch with the fresh flowers. As he looked across the makeshift ballroom, he scanned the neatly aligned white chairs where his aunts sat patting the moisture from their plump necks with handkerchiefs that probably had four generations of owners before them. Fans were being whipped out and waved back and forth, actually increasing the perspiration they were fretting over. The electric fans set up in the tent were blowing the same warm air that everyone was trying to escape from outside. Near the entrance Kurt and Eddie were hovering around waiting for more guests. Marcell and Clint's brother, Cedric, had just seated three guests on the bride's side and were ready to take on new escort duties. It's comical, Clint thought, while watching them tussle over who would show the decent-looking ladies to their seats, then watching them spread like wildfire when a bad gene walked in, braids too thick, skirt too tight over an ass too wide. Kurt was the only one being an equal-opportunity player. Swinging his long arm through theirs, striding them down the aisle in assembly fashion. Clint wished they'd all act with a little more sense and maturity. They were supposed to be his representation, his dutiful guards, posted to serve and protect. These were the ones who helped get him through a grueling bout of medical school. They'd be friends for life, no doubt, like comrades of war. They'd survived while many others had not. Kurt waved at Clint to get his attention. Now what, Clint thought. Kurt threw his eyes in a jerky movement to the right of him. Clint's eyes widened when he saw her walk in. She showed up. He couldn't believe it. Her chiffon dress skimmed every curve of her body, stopping at the point where her legs began. She looked his way. Clint gave her a nod of acknowledgment. He knew he could do no more than that. All questioning eyes were upon him. What's she doing here? The whispers were floating through the air. Or was it his imagination? Clint didn't know what to expect when he'd personally dropped off the invitation in her mailbox. He didn't dare take a chance on the U.S. Postal Service. He wanted to know it had been delivered. If she didn't show up, he'd know it was intentional and not an oversight. But she had taken the high road and walked in here polished, radiating happiness. "How ya holdin' up, man?" Cedric inquired, already knowing the answer. "I'm all right." Speaking was painful for Clint. His tongue was glued to the roof of his mouth. "You see who showed up?" Cedric let out a small laugh and slapped his baby brother on the back. "You look like you could use a drink." Clint could feel the shirt underneath his tuxedo jacket stick to the spot where his brother's hand landed. It clung to his perspiring skin. "Nah, man, just water." "That's all I'm offering, my brotha. You can barely stand now. Don't worry, man. I'll make sure no catfights go down." His older brother walked away the same way he'd come, smiling and kissing babies like a politician. Cedric hadn't worn a suit since his own wedding ten years ago and was taking advantage of his day in the sun as the best man. He returned with the same affable expression, carrying a large crystal goblet of water. "Here you go, man." Clint took the ice-cold water and drank, sipping slowly to loosen up the parched edges of his mouth. He felt like a dying man, and this was his last drink of water . . . as a single guy. He had to admit to himself he was scared. After this day, there would be no more choices. No more contemplating, struggling for the right answer. No one should ever have to make the choice between two women. Especially when both were everything you could ever want in this lifetime. But it was done. He had chosen. Clint shook himself a little to stay in the here and now. He took a few more quick breaths, but he was still in the smooth arms of the past. The music started playing a nondescript tune. The last available seats had been filled with more pastel hats, suits and ties. Clint tried to focus, refocus. He lost sight of her. He couldn't tell where she was sitting, if she was still there. Maybe she had changed her mind. Told herself, "after all he'd put her through, he didn't deserve her blessing." But when he caught sight of her standing, the coral splash of color, the right amount of spice on her tangy light brown skin, greeting Cedric with a hug, for that moment it was Clint, there, in her arms. In his mind, he hugged her back. He could smell the airy sweet perfume she always wore, feel her lips pressed against his cheek. The sound of the loud organ gearing up threw Clint back into reality. He eyed the full expecting faces sitting in rows, all waiting for the show, the unity of man and woman till death do they part. The pounding of the three chords reverberated through his feet and rose up in his chest. This was it. If he didn't stop this thing now, there would be no turning back. Excerpted from Nappily Ever After: A Novel by Trisha R. Thomas All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.