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Objective, but a bit unsatisfying
on 23 September 2013
One of the problems with trying to get a sense of Edith Piaf's life and influence is that previous (auto)biographies are rather self-serving and one-sided, so you're never sure whether you're getting a dispassionate view of this remarkable chanteuse. So it was very refreshing to read a biography that tries to take a detached view of her life, despite the fact that the author is largely having to rely on papers rather than interviews with Piaf's contemporaries. My major criticism is that there is a bit too much chronology (especially in respect of the bewildering number of lovers in her life), and not enough analysis. To get to a five-star rating, I would have liked more depth about why and how Piaf struck such a chord with audiences then and now; what her legacy is on French and other music; and more about her impact in the US, rather than just a list of her appearances on the Ed Sullivan show for example. So I'd recommend this book, but I just wish it had gone a bit deeper in its treatment of Piaf as an individual, and her music as a lasting legacy.