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The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  490 Ratings  ·  80 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
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2012)
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May 18, 2016 Maria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Na realidade não o terminei, fiquei pela página 100. Não me estava a prender minimamente. Uma biografia confusão com muitos nomes e muita gente pelo meio, que nos deixa perdidas. Por isso vou desistir, com muita pena minha, mas tenho tantos bons livros para ler, que não vale a perder tempo com este...
Ian "Marvin" Graye

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
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.
Jan 09, 2016 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. The subtitle of the book is "The Search for Nica, Rebellious Rothschild and Jazz's Secret Muse," and the book focuses much more on the first half of that title than the second.

If you, like me, wanted to read this to get more insight into the relationship between Nica and the New York jazz scene of the 1950s-60s, you may wind up disappointed. The author, Hannah Rothschild, admits that she didn't know anything at all about jazz before starting in o
Mar 24, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Sep 16, 2014 Kasia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 10, 2013 Florence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenni Ogden
Jun 13, 2012 Jenni Ogden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
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
Ray Hibbert
Aug 05, 2015 Ray Hibbert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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.
Oct 31, 2015 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Cydni Perkins
Sep 17, 2013 Cydni Perkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tony Nielsen
Aug 22, 2012 Tony Nielsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelly W
Mar 13, 2013 Kelly W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
The Baroness was a mystery to me until I finally figured out, in my own mind, her disorder. First, when I read that she had 306 cats in her NJ home (which her brother bought for her since she kept getting kicked out of NYC hotels), I lost interest in reading about her. But the book came in as I had ordered so I read it. She left her 5 kids as I recall and had a very accomplished, intelligent professional sister (horticulture or insect expert) in England. I see the Baroness as reckless and maybe ...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
The Lost Lola
Jul 06, 2013 The Lost Lola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 20, 2013 Susy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gaelen Parker
Jun 10, 2012 Gaelen Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Angela Pezel
Mar 11, 2016 Angela Pezel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A easy to read biography of a little known scion of the Rothschild family written by her great-niece.

Pannonica Rothschild was born in 1913 into a world of wealth and privilege in Britain. Her family was the fabulously wealthy banking dynasty and she had cousins and familial attachments all over the European continent. She married a fellow Jewish aristocrat from France and they lived an eccentric life. Then she fell in love with jazz.

She followed her love of the music to New York where she rubb
Lori Ide
Mar 05, 2014 Lori Ide rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
Jan 12, 2014 Connie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
rachael gibson
Aug 09, 2012 rachael gibson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the best biography I've ever read, but a good introduction to a fascinating woman nevertheless. The slightly disjointed writing style was actually pretty endearing, combining family accounts with interviews and facts garnered from letters and diaries.

As others have suggested, the book probably teaches you more about Thelonious Monk than Nica herself - still, their lives were so closely interlinked that I suppose that's inevitable even if it does leave you wishing for more facts about the Bar
Kavita Das
Jul 30, 2013 Kavita Das rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at an extraordinary and unorthodox life that included growing up in the lap of luxury as a Rothschild, marrying a Baron, helping World War II efforts in North Africa, and ultimately becoming a supporter of modern jazz/modern jazz musicians, and the steadfast confidante of Thelonius Monk. The fact that the book is written by her own grand-niece, Hannah Rothschild, provides a more personal perspective and we watch as Hannah pieces together the fragments of her grand-aunt's extraor ...more
Caroline Philippone
I really had hoped this biography was going to be better. It had all the makings to be incredibly interesting, with Nica Rothschild at the forefront of Jazz, and all the amazing people she knew.

Sadly, I think much is glossed over in the history. I don't know if this is a personal choice by the author, Hannah (who knew Nica as a great aunt), or if there really wasn't any info out there. I think I will continue looking for more info on Thelonius Monk for one, and hopefully get a better idea of th
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.
Dec 19, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Didn't finish it. I probably shouldn't start reading non-fiction before the holidays. I quite liked the book, especially the picture it gave of the eccentric Rothschild family. It did start to drag toward the middle; maybe if I were more into Thelonious Monk and the music scene in New York during that period, I would have found this more engaging. Other people might enjoy this; but I got books for Christmas that I wanted to read more than I wanted to finish this one.
Catherine Boardman
Life of a forgotten Rothschild by a current Rothschild. The lot of women in the gilded Rothschild cage in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries doesn't sound to have been all it might be cracked up to be. Nica escaped, but whether or not she used her access to interesting people and places in the wisest way is open to debate. Very good on the anti Semitism that she and the rest of family encountered.
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Hannah Mary Rothschild is a British writer, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker. She also serves on the boards of various philanthropic trusts and museums. In August 2015, she became chair of the London National Gallery's Board of Trustees.
More about Hannah Mary Rothschild...

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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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