The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild and Jazz's Secret Muse
By Hannah Rothschild
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781101872338, 304pp.)
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
Beautiful and spirited, Pannonica Rothschild, known as Nica, was born in 1913 to eccentric privilege and a storied family history. After marrying well, she settled into a French chateau to bear children and support her husband’s war career. But when Nica heard “Round Midnight” by jazz composer Thelonious Monk, everything changed. She abandoned her marriage, found Monk in New York, and devoted herself to him and to other musicians, becoming the unsung philanthropist of the city’s Jazz scene.
Hannah Rothschild has given twenty years to the quest of revealing who her great-aunt really was. Drawing on unpublished archival material, private family records and her own interviews, she has produced a fascinating portrait—part musical odyssey, part love story—that showcases a woman ahead of her time who dared to live as she wanted.
Hannah Rothschild is a writer and director whose documentaries have appeared at film festivals including Telluride and Tribeca. She conceived and directed The Jazz Baroness, a film about her great-aunt and Thelonious Monk, which was broadcast by BBC and HBO in 2009. She has written for British Vanity Fair, Vogue, The Independent and The Spectator. She is vice president of the Hay Literary Festival and trustee of the National Gallery and Waddesdon Manor.
“Utterly absorbing.” —Elle, A "Must-Read Book"
“Rothschild pushes aside the smoke, the scandal, and the pearls to present a fair portrait of her compulsive, elusive ancestress.” —The Daily Beast
“Rothschild has fun evoking the fizz of Nica’s New York.” —The New Yorker
“An eminently readable, well researched biography—one third a history of the Rothschild family, one third a portrait of Nica and one third a biography of Monk.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“A more rounded portrait of Nica than any published before.” —The Week
“Hannah 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.” —The Guardian
“An enjoyable, madcap read about a woman who once raced Miles Davis in a car … and played a part in nurturing a generation of struggling musicians.” —The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC)
“Smoky, seductive, smart, and full of both beautiful and sad family lore.” —Interview Magazine
“Rothschild blends biography and personal history to uncover an enigma who had all but vanished from the family annals.” —Town and Country
“At first glance Thelonious (Monk) and Pannonica (Rothschild) might seem to have nothing in common. Yet as Hannah Rothschild shows in this tender memoir, the symmetries of their lives ran far deeper.” —Mail on Sunday (London)
“[A] remarkable . . . sophisticated recounting of [the Rothschilds’] riveting history.” —WWD
“An eminently readable, well researched biography—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.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“This revelatory and unique biography feels long overdue. . . . A more rounded portrait of Nica than any published before.” —The Week
“[An] honest, compassionate portrait. . . . Rothschild’s work covers the unique perspective of a family member whose quest to comprehend the essence of her fascinating yet controversial great-aunt is illuminating . . . . Provides thoughtful insight into Nica’s life, milieu, and cultural era, and will appeal to jazz enthusiasts as well as to musicians and popular historians.” —Library Journal
“[A] fascinating history of the Rothschild dynasty.” —W Magazine
“Charming. . . . Nica is an irresistible combination of British eccentricity and Rothschild sophistication. Readers will enjoy this intimate story of a lifetime of rule breaking, told with remarkable detail, tenderness, and true empathy.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“The fascinating story of a member of Europe’s banking aristocracy who spent the second, half of her life swinging with New York’s jazz aristocracy. . . . An engaging mixture of well-researched biography and personal reminiscences about her formidable relatives.” —Kirkus Reviews