Prudence Emery: Nanaimo Girl
Review by Charlie Pachter
What a marathon, a frenetic romp, a roller coaster ride through her life Pru has compiled!
It’s an easy read because she’s a perceptive and seasoned writer.
How does a girl raised in a prim anglo family in a small town on Vancouver Island turn into a femme fatale, a Jill of all Trades, hobnobbing with the rich and famous while living the London high life, travelling all over the planet as a film publicist –where did her indomitable energy come from?
How could she handle the long flights, airports, jet lag, exhaustion, hangovers? From Expo ’67 hostess in Montreal to press attaché at the posh Savoy Hotel in London in the 60s, to press princess at the Metro Toronto Zoo, the sheer scope of her memories is mind boggling.
Pru shares her escapades willingly –her various lovers, her joys and sorrows, gratitude for lifelong friends, frank revelations about people’s darker sides, the glamour, glitter and grimness of the film industry, – the gruelling fatigue, highs and lows of location shootings in hostile climates, dealing with temperamental actors, directors and producers.
Now in her 80s, still with flaming red hair and living comfortably in a condo overlooking the ocean in Victoria, B.C., she looks back on her life with pleasure and insight. And in so doing, she gives her readers a memoir to delight in. For all you’ve done, and all you do, thank you Pru!
Summer Reads: A Nanaimo Girl And Her Star-Studded Life
Born in Nanaimo to a family of eccentrics, Prudence Emery was set up to do all the right things: she went to Crofton House private school for girls in Vancouver, attended the Trafalgar Day Ball, and was a debutante.
But she shattered family expectations when she took off for London to attend art school. There, living on an allowance from her father, she met and became fast friends with an astonishing array of people, and at the expense of her studies, she became a party girl.
In Nanaimo Girl, published by Cormorant Books, Emery recounts countless escapades and celebrations — along with stories of her work at Montreal’s Expo 67, the Metro Toronto Zoo and the luxurious Savoy Hotel. And there’s lots of celebrity appearances from Emery’s 30-plus years doing film publicity, including Twiggy, Liza Minelli, Matt Damon, Viggo Mortensen, Bob Hope and Louis Armstrong.
Click here to read the full article on the YAM Magazine website.
Born in Nanaimo in the 1936, at age 83 Prudence Emery of Victoria has published her mostly show-biz memoirs in Nanaimo Girl (Cormorant Books, 2020). After working for five years as a press secretary for the Savoy Hotel in London–and getting a kiss from Paul McCartney–she became a Hollywood publicist working with the likes of Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges, Rob Lowe, Peter O’Toole, plus Canadians Raymond Burr and David Cronenberg. She has 80 credits as a unit publicist on IMBD.
Prudence Emery graduated from Crofton House Private School in Vancouver, B.C. in 1954 and attended UBC for two years before taking a secretarial job at the Naval base in Esquimalt. She earned enough to attend the Chelsea School of Art in London in 1957. She returned to Canada in 1962 at age 25 and taught handicrafts to veterans at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver for a summer, then took a year of teacher’s training in Victoria before heading to Toronto where she worked as scab proof reader during a strike at The Globe and Mail from 1965-1966.
Her breakthrough as a publicist occurred at Expo 67 in Montreal where she oversaw tours for travel writers and celebrities including Liberace, Twiggy, Hugh Hefner and Edward Albee. In 1968, she returned to London for a month’s visit and was offered a job as Press and Public Relations Officer at the Savoy Hotel. where she spent five years. There she crossed paths with celebrities and politicians such as Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Petula Clark, Louis Armstrong, Sir Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, Liza Minnelli and Ginger Rogers.
Emery returned to Toronto in 1973 and began working as a publicist for more than 100 film productions, travelling the globe and meeting actors such as Sofia Loren, Julianne Moore, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Viggo Mortensen, Jenifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford and Jeremy Irons. She has worked for ten films directed by David Cronenberg. In 2014, at age 78, she wrote and produced the short comedy Hattie’s Heist.
In Nanaimo Girl, Prudence Emery provides anecdotes about many of the people liked, such as Sophia Loren, Peter O’Toole, Angie Dickinson, Robin Williams, David Cronenberg and Nicolas Cage. She also highlights a few people who were not so fond of her, such as Bette Midler and Sharon Stone. In the field of literature, Emery’s longtime friendship with Krystyne and Scott Griffin is noteworthy, leading to her involvement with the launch of the Griffin Prize.
Click here to read the full article on the ABC Bookworld website
Nanaimo Girl, always…
Review by Ruth Smith
What a fun read for these challenging times. If you know Prudence you will smile reading every page, and if you don’t know her you will wish you did. I had the pleasure of working with her for a number of years – what a rollercoaster we were on, and she knows what I mean! Thanks for this memoir Prudence.
My (One and Only) Nanaimo Girl
Amazon.ca Review by Ron Base
Few people had as much influence on my professional life in the late 1970s and early 1980s as publicist extraordinaire, Prudence Emery.
Thanks to Pru, I snorkeled in the Red Sea, ended up in a snowbank in Barkerville, British Columbia, drank champagne with legendary British playwright John Osborne in Montreal, witnessed Peter O’Toole in full meltdown, and, most spectacularly of all, got kissed by Ann-Margret in Toronto.
And, oh, yeah, when I needed it most, she sublet her apartment above Toronto’s Casa Loma to me.
As it turns out, however, I occupied only a tiny corner in Pru’s remarkable life, a life distilled at length in her delightful, humor-filled new memoir, Nanaimo Girl (published by Cormorant Books).
It’s a life that transported her out of a small Vancouver Island coal town into series of adventures around the world, highlighted by her stint as the Press and Public Relations Director for London’s historic Savoy Hotel. Pru, confirming Mae West’s observation that while good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere, went everywhere (occasionally in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce), and met everyone. The Savoy years constitute the most fascinating part of an entirely fascinating book.
It’s often jaw-dropping to read her recounting of a bygone era in the 1960s when the most famous people in the world dropped by the Savoy, when every night was a party, long liquid lunches the order of the day, everyone tending to end up in bed with everyone else, and political correctness meant not misspelling Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s name.
Eventually, the endless parties, the failed romances, not to mention the attendant hangovers, all became too much even for the resilient Pru. She retreated back to Canada and a job publicizing the startup of the Global television network. I must have met her back then as I was hanging around the Don Mills studios quite a bit for a Toronto Sunday Sun story.
But memory holds that we first encountered one another on the set of a horror movie called Black Christmas, which, it turned out, was her baptism by fire as a film industry publicist. It opened the door to her involvement in 120 television and movie productions over the next thirty years.
Pru, it must be said, is a lot more memorable than most of the films she worked on. And the movie set stories recounted in Nanaimo Girl are certainly much more fun. Reading her book brought back a flood of fond memories.
Ah, Prudence, Prudence, we did hear the chimes at midnight and on occasion turned the moon to blood—but thankfully I was trumped by Noel Coward and Paul McCartney stories, so none of that made it into her book. Pru coming to my aid yet again.
14 must-read books for Spring 2020
NOW Magazine Review by Susan G. Cole
These are bleak times for sure, so a memoir from someone who merrily defied expectations is welcome. Nanaimo-born Prudence Emery thumbed her nose at her parents’ stodgy demands, decamped to art school in London and later worked in the press office at the Savoy Hotel. There she developed the art of partying with the rich and famous, until she realized her excesses may prove too dangerous and moved back to Canada. Although she settled in Victoria, she, happily, never really settled down. All of this she recalls in amusing detail, while insisting we all live life fearlessly and pursue true happiness.
Click here to read the full article on the Now Magazine website.
#809 From Nanaimo to the Royal Ascot
The Ormsby Review
Reviewed by Randolph Eustace-Walden
Prudence Emery is the eponymous “Nanaimo Girl.”
Now in her early 80s and living on her native Vancouver Island just outside Victoria, Pru has written a memoir that is quite astonishing in its detail. While recounting events that chronicle her personal life, the reader is left with a dizzying array of interlocking stories that culminate in — if you’ll excuse the phrase — one hell of a life.
The book follows an everyone is from somewhere” thread, and this book, this woman’s life, unspools its thread beginning in Nanaimo, “a murky little coal town.” “In a lifetime of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous,” she reflects, “almost no one I met had heard of Nanaimo…”
And so her story begins, and rich and famous they were!
By her own admission, she “behaved so badly” as a child that she was sent off to a boarding school (twice) to learn her manners. These first tastes of life outside the clutches of parental control gave her free reign to push envelopes and test boundaries. She was precocious to a fault, but her “antics” still managed to earn her black marks in school and scowls from her elders. Despite her rebellious ways, she graduated from Grade 12 in the mid-1950s with a B+ average and was promptly launched into Victoria society as a debutante. Not bad for a girl who was once slapped by a teacher, the result of one of her escapades.
After a short stint at the University of British Columbia, Pru had had enough. She packed her belongings into two trunks and, with her best friend, shipped off to Europe.
Her decision to drop anchor in London after a whirlwind tour of the continent would serve her well for the rest of her peripatetic career, for it was here that the “rubbing of shoulders” began in earnest.
Although attending art school during the day, it was during her wild evenings in the pubs of Chelsea and Covent Garden that she met Irish screenwriter Patrick Kirwan. He gave Pru her first real job in the film business, typing a script for the musical comedy feature, “Tommy and the Toreador,” starring pop star Tommy Steele and British stalwarts Sidney James and Bernard Cribbins. Pru and Patrick hit it off, and he soon became her mentor, a mentor with “benefits,” shall we say.
Click here to read the full article on The Ormsby Review website.
Prudence Emery of Victoria was born in Nanaimo in the 1936. After working for five years as a press secretary for the Savoy Hotel in London–and getting a kiss from Paul McCartney–she became a Hollywood publicist working with the likes of Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges, Rob Lowe, Peter O’Toole and Canadians Raymond Burr and David Cronenberg. She has 80 credits as a unit publicist on IMBD. At age 82, she will publish her memoirs, Nanaimo Girl (Cormorant 2019), forthcoming in the fall. Prudence Emery graduated from Crofton House Private School in Vancouver, B.C. in 1954 and attended UBC for two years before taking a secretarial job at the Naval base in Esquimalt. She earned enough to attend the Chelsea School of Art in London in 1957.
She returned to Canada in 1962 at age 25 and taught handicrafts to veterans at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver for a summer, then took a year of teacher’s training in Victoria before heading to Toronto where she worked as scab proof reader during a strike at The Globe and Mail from 1965-1966. Her breakthrough as a publicist occurred at Expo 67 in Montreal where she oversaw tours for travel writers and celebrities including Liberace, Twiggy, Hugh Hefner and Edward Albee.
Click here to read the full article on the BC Booklook website.
Click here to read Pru’s interviews.
Click here to check out Pru’s Avid Readers!