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Book Reviews

Hannah Rothschild: The Baroness - The search for Nica, the rebellious Rothschild

By Published: March 17, 2013
Her contradictory fame will reach its highest note when the newspapers will announce in bold type that Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
had died in her hotel suite. Apparently, Parker, ill with liver cirrhosis and completely deteriorated by addiction, had knocked at many doors in those days looking for shelter. Nica's door was the only one that opened to him.

Her dedication reached its peak when Nica, while driving Monk to a gig in Baltimore, took upon herself the possession of $10 worth of marijuana during a body check on the highway. She did it because she knew that Monk wouldn't survive another detention. The resulting lawsuit for narcotics possession, and the charge of 3 years detention, which made the headlines for years, ruined her social prestige irreparably. Not that she cared. Nica stood by Thelonious Monk until the day of his death.

There have been many speculations regarding the nature of their relationship. Whether in the time spent in Paris, Pannonica Rothschild and Thelonious Monk have been romantically involved, or their bond was based on an affectionate friendship, will always remain a secret. Nellie, Monk's wife, has learned to accept her presence and her help, and was even grateful when Monk, ill and haunted by demons moved into Nica's house, a house she had purchased in order to accommodate him. He will die there in 1982. At his burial Nica and Nellie will sit together and receive, both alike condolences and the honors due to a loving life partner.

Pannonica will live another 6 years but she will not be the same again. She will spend most of her time reading in bed surrounded by over one hundred cats. Because there was no TV in the house she will often be asked how she was spending her time. She will answer invariably: "Picking over a lifetime of memories." Before her death, Nica expresses a single wish; she requested that her ashes should be scattered over the Hudson River at a certain time: Round Midnight.


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