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The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  310 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Beautiful, romantic and spirited, Pannonica, known as Nica, named after her father’s favorite moth, was born in 1913 to extraordinary, eccentric privilege and a storied history. The Rothschild family had, in only five generations, risen from the ghetto in Frankfurt to stately homes in England. As a child, Nica took her daily walks, dressed in white, with her two sisters an ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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I wanted to like this book more than I did. I thought a story about a Rothschild running off to join the bohemian New York jazz scene would be quite entertaining. Alas... After a somewhat lengthy history of the family, the story then flips over to Nica. The account of her life in New York lacked any real verve or sense of adventure that one might have expected. This is a book to be skimmed through, if read at all.
Od kiedy dowiedziałam się o tej książce, chciałam ją przeczytać. Okazało się, że zabrałam się za biografię Pannonici de Koenigswarter z domu Rothschild, która w latach 50-tych urzeczona utworem Theloniusa Monka, porzuciła męża dyplomatę, przeniosła się do NY i została patronką i przyjaciółką najlpeszych jazzmenów. Baronowa była kobietą niezwykłą, impulsywną, łamiącą konwenanse, nieprzejmującą się uprzedzeniami społecznymi. Dzięki książce poznałam sylwetkę Theloniusa Monka, historię niewyjaśnione ...more
Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild, or Nica as she was more commonly known, was born in 1913, the youngest of four children. For Nica, being a Rothschild (the fabulously wealthy banking family), meant living a life of privilege in a huge mansion, surrounded by servants, and often dining alone in the nursery. Life was lonely and restrictive for such a ‘free spirit’ and the only escape was marriage.

As a debutante, Nica met and married Baron Jules de Koenigswarter (who taught her to fly his plane)
Chelsea Sutton
A Rare Moth

This book stroke the cord in me that genuinely enjoys unearthing the life of another and learning about a certain time in the world as seen through a human's existence.

Pannonica is a true piece of history that I would recommend anyone to become familiar with as she boldly represents a woman who lived life on her own terms and used her privilege to influence many unselfishly.
Pannonica Rothschild, a strong willed, courageous, and eccentric daughter of the fabulously wealthy banking family, took an unexpected path. She fled her family and her privileged life to join the New York City postwar jazz scene. Considering the pampered, yet stifling existance of a wealthy matriarch in the 1950s, her flight seemed like a genuine escape. The rest of Nica's life was spent as a patron to fabulously talented musicians, many of whom were seeped in a self-destructive culture of drug ...more
So little I knew of the early jazz scene here in the U.S. And a fascinating look inside a famous family. I highly recommend this book.
Ian Agadada-Davida

Promo for the book

Interview with the author

All That Jazz: Hannah Rothschild with Bonnie Greer

"Monk and the Baroness": Interview with Thelonious Monk Jr. about the Film for Shtetl

Joel Forrester talks about Baroness Nica von Koenigswarter and Thelonious Monk
Jenni Ogden
This is a fascinating memoir of a Rothschild woman who rebelled, penned by her grand-neice. Pannonica (Nica) Rothschild (1913-1988) was known as the "Jazz Baroness" because of her passion for the jazz world and her all-embracing support of some many jazz musicians, including Thelonious Monk(with whom she had an unusually intimate relationship that was probably not sexual) and Charlie Parker (who died in her apartment). A seductive peek into a world most of us could barely imagine, and probably l ...more
I was amazed to read about growing up with 4o servants in 1904 and then how the 1 world war changed that. I was interested in growing up Jewish and rich in England. Her siblings had to deal with personal problems including being female in a business line of males. Nica was an odd bird. Reading about her made me more puzzled about what she was doing and why.

The cover art is really surprising. The book has a 1950's look but was published this year.
I think I must be turning into a pride as I get older but this woman, Nica Rothschild, irritated the hell out of me. I suppose if you are a jazz desperado you could understand her behaviour but I thought she was much less interesting than all the other members of the family which were described by Hannah Rothschild. Too little substance or perhaps too many substances.....
Lori Ide
Picked this up at the library since I'm a jazz fan. I like biographies, so I was drawn to this tale of a Rothschild millionairous with five children who abandons her priviliged life in England (and largely, it seems, abandons her family as well) to become the patron of the jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. She heard 'Round Midnight, became captivated, and devoted her life to this jazz genius for his remaining 30 plus years.

The author is a grand niece of Rothschild who started out as a director of a
a very interesting life with some great stories about the old jazz guys (monk, blakey, et. al) but tempered somewhat by the fact that the book was appalling written/edited.
Tony Nielsen
I often struggle to complete biographies, but no problems encountered with the Baroness. This is no dry or stodgy read, quite the reverse. Maybe it's the jazz connection as much of the book is about this Rothschild lady's story reflects the years she spent as a muse and friend to the pianist Theolonius Monk. But that part of her life was preceeded by a childhood under the umbrella of one of Europe's richest families, although the Rothschild women were very much second class citizens, never allow ...more
Julie Barrett
Although the book is focused on Nica Rothschild, the parts of the book that I enjoyed the most were the parts focused on the history of the entire Rothschild clan. It really is an amazing rise from abject poverty and discrimination to incredible wealth and power. I guess I need to go search out a book about the family. The author only gave the briefest of overviews about her family; mainly focusing on the British branch since that is the one she and Nica are descended from. I can't stop thinking ...more
Kelly W
As a child, I used to daydream what my life would have been like had I been born to wealthy parents. Nica Rothschild had it all and then some. Different castles for summer and winter with transport between them by private train. All one could wish for, it seems. But, as we all would,she grew tired of her cloistered existence and resolutely turned her back on it.

The times, the first and second world wars and Nica's rebellious nature led to her escaping this gilded cage. The cost,however,was enorm
This was a book group selection and a title and a woman completely unknown to me. Like many young girls I thought it would be glamerous to live a life of luxury in a palatial home - preferably in Britain - where I fanatasized about being on a first name basis with the royal family. In fact, that was Nica, Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild's, childhood except it was a lonely bereft existance. We learn her backstory and the story of the rags to riches Rothschild family as she grows into a young ...more
The Lost Lola
Jul 25, 2013 The Lost Lola rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to The Lost Lola by: Vanity Fair
An interesting account of a woman whom I had never even heard of before! The in depth historical account of the Rothschild family was incredibly interesting, every single person in the clan seems so weirdly eccentric and colorful, I would love to hear more about them, especially her science and bug obsessed sister, Miriam. The author does a really great job of capturing the history of the time and the jazz movement in general, with bits on Charlie Parker and a primary focus on Thelonius Monk thr ...more
Holly Ites
There were several reasons why I picked this book for reading. The title was intriguing, since it was a Rothschild writing about a Rothschild who eschewed a life of unimaginable wealth and privilege to immerse herself into the jazz scene, specifically in support of the person a lot of jazz musicians consider the creator of bebop, Thelonius Monk. When I saw in the liner notes that Charlie Parker had actually passed away in her apartment, I knew I had to find out who this woman was.

A fascinating
Cydni Perkins
The author did an excellent job of organizing her thoughts in this book. She was capable of going off on tangents, relating a memory or an anecdote, bringing together interview quotes, and then getting on with the story. The transitions were seamless. I admired her craft.

So that's style. As far as substance goes, I think she did a remarkable job of bringing a sense of humanity to her powerful and aloof family. And I think she presented each person in as accurate a light as she possibly could. S
Ray Hibbert
When I finally accustomised myself to the forced, romance novel-style prose about half way through the book, I couldn't stop myself reading between the lines and wondering what Nica, her family and Thelonius would have actually been like. Absolute sociopathic pains in the arse no doubt!
I don't usually read biographies...they are always one-sided. This definitely was, and has put me off attempting any more in the near future.

Gaelen Parker
This book is beautifully written and utterly fascinating. Nica Rothschild is born in the fabulously wealthy banking dynasty but with the suicide of her father aged ten and the increasing remoteness of her mother, she finds solace in music and animals. she marries well and conventionally but when the war breaks out and she enlists in the Free French army, she finds, for the first time in her life, a cause.
When the war ends she's expected to slip back into routine motherhood. Feelings of claustrop
Robert Davidson
Very good read about a very interesting Lady who tried and eventually succeeded living life on her own terms. Growing up as a member of the fabled Rothschild family was not easy as some may think, especially for the women as they were excluded from positions of power. The love of jazz propelled the two main characters into a love story which continued life long even though they were from two polar opposite backgrounds.
Nov 28, 2015 Jac rated it 4 of 5 stars
thelonius monk, art blakey, horace silver, barry harris, to name just a few, all my be-bop heroes, hung with nica. the bird dies in her home, miles davis in his mercedes, challenges her in a rolls royce to a race. they are on the streets of new york. she says, i believe i can beat the motherf*cker.
Julia Ris
Actually between 3 & 4 was interesting to read about the history of the Rothschild family and that time in Europe, and then the connection with Thelonious Monk and that scene in NYC...for some reason my interest waned near the end. But good writing and enjoyed.
This book was about the rebellious Rothschild daughter Pannonica. The lifestyle and the glamours life she led. Nica, the name she was more known by gave it all up to follow the Jazz era! She was quite infatuated with Thelonius Monk and many black jazz musicians. She moved to New York to be able to follow them and felt quite connected and protective towards the Jazz musicians of that time. She was a free spirit she even followed her husband to Africa and enlisted in the Free French Army where she ...more
For the first 100 pages, I would have ranked this book as three stars, and only then because it was historically interesting. After that, though, Hannah picks up the jazz and the real musical culture that drew Nica in, and I was hooked.

I received this book as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway, and I think I expected it to be more of a work of fiction. I'm not sure I knew what it was when I started.

It is a biography, and it reads as a biography. At times it's a bit tedious, but even though Nica'
Denise Dougherty
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The best part of the book was the narrator who is also the author. Nice job - boring book. Yes, rich celebrities can be just as boring as we ordinary folk. Ultimately, I thought who cares.

Jeaninne Escallier Kato
I enjoyed the way Hannah Rothschild wove her family's story like a fictional account; I never felt bogged down with facts. From the first page to the last, I was wanting more. Well-researched; fascinating story.
Loved this book, the history of the Jews, the rebellious nature of Hannah and the beginning of the jazz era- fantastic page after page!
Interesting but could have done with more detail of what happened to Nica in WW2, surely that was crucial in influencing her later life.
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“I was making another film. “I’ve done too many of those to” 0 likes
“Monk would conduct the weather. “He could make the clouds change direction, I don’t know if you knew that? People up the road here keep pigeons. Thelonious would stand at the window and make them change direction; I have seen him actually do it. He could make a cloud turn back.” 0 likes
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