- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Virago Press (UK); 1st Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844086038
- ISBN-13: 978-1844086030
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,928,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Baroness: The Search for Nica the Rebellious Rothschild Hardcover – May 1, 2012
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Shake the storied Rothschild family tree and you’re bound to let loose more than a few eccentrics, perhaps none more so than the enigmatic Pannonica Rothschild, who later, through marriage, became Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter. Sifting through the family history for information about her infamous yet elusive great-aunt Nica, the author remained undaunted as she was initially stonewalled by tight-lipped relatives. Digging more aggressively over the course of 25 years, she uncovered the intriguing story of a not-so-classic “poor little rich girl” who fell in love with a musical revolution and ditched her husband and five children for the sake of jazz. Inspired by Thelonious Monk’s seminal recording “’Round Midnight,” she fled her French château in 1951, setting up shop in New York, where she was a fixture on the jazz scene until her death, in 1988. Nicknamed “the Baroness of Jazz,” she befriended and acted as patroness to a score of musical giants, including Monk and Charlie Parker. Rothschild has firmly fleshed out a fascinating footnote to musical history. --Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Startling ... Hannah Rothschild tells this story with care, balancing narrative tension with a desire to lay out all the facts so readers can make up their own minds ... Wholly gripping' -- Rachel Cooke Observer 'The story that Hannah Rothschild tells in her bright, clear prose is a mixture of things - nearly a biography of Nica, nearly a biography of Thelonious Monk, nearly a sketch of the 1950s New York jazz scene. At one level it's a version of The Hare with Amber Eyes ... [Nica's] story, with all its tall tales and theatrical paraphernalia, is full of interest and warmth ... She was ballsy and kind. There's something to be drawn out here - something given a particular emotional torque by the author's own consciousness of her place in this family - about belonging and escape: about what you can achieve, what you're doomed to endure, and all that jazz' -- Sam Leith Spectator Riveting, touching and insightful Daily Telegraph A well-researched biography. It is one third a history of the Rothschild family, one third a portrait of Nica, and one third a biography of Monk. Nica comes across as a remarkable woman, strong, feisty and rebellious Sunday Times Richly textured, elegantly told and often as surprising as its subject, Hannah Rothschild's biography of her great-aunt is a moving tribute to a fascinating and original woman Country Life
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Top customer reviews
Nevertheless, Hannah Rothschild has created a story with wide reach into the political and social worlds of the early 20th Century, as well as the idiosyncrasies of some of the Rothschilds.
Pannonica really became "Nica" when jazz tunes were written for her; and she must have reveled in that, since Nica seems to have been a much happier person than Pannonica. The fearlessness, and even recklessness, with which Nica immersed herself into what was really a totally different culture to the one she grew up in, is wonderfully told; a subtle but powerful testament to the draw of timeless musical art. She might have been "the rebellious Rothschild", but she was also an important patron of an original art form.
If you enjoy the book, you should also seek out "Straight, No Chaser", the Monk documentary where she appears, all too briefly.
In the end, Nica was as quirky a character as the writer of the music she loved so much - Thelonious Sphere Monk.
So the main reason for buying the book was to learn more about Monk and the music that he composed, played and also influenced in the period of the 1940's and 1950's.
What I experienced in the reading was much more than an insight into Monk and that period.
The majority of the book focuses on the period from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century.
The succinct history of the Rothschild Empire is mixed with the landscape of Europe, United Kingdom, America and other countries impacted by in particular the great wars.
Overlaying this is the evolution of Jazz music set in context of the era and the geography.
It is not limited to but flows from Louis Armstrong through Duke Ellington onto Monk, Miles and Bird.
Yet whilst it is an excellent historical summary on many levels it also is an emotionally engaging read.
I connected with Nica and her family and the musicians - the connections with Nica and the musicicains was more often than not uncomfortable.
The connection however was raw and real.
I came away with an ambivalent feeling about Nica - suspended with feelings of admiration,empathy and frustration but still wanting to know more.
Since I'm a jazz fan, The story of her years in NY were of special interest to me. I think most of the world didn't realize the privations these very famous, even loved, jazz musicians were faced with. The Baroness literally supported a generation of Jazz Greats!
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