paris street scene

Carolyn Burke


No Regrets:
The Life of Edith Piaf
Piaf soirée with chanteuse Betty Roi at Cafe Tosca, San Francisco, 2012.
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Edith Piaf was one of the most beloved singers of the twentieth century. Bringing a fresh approach to her legend, No Regrets recounts her friendships with such figures as Maurice Chevalier, Jean Cocteau, and Marlene Dietrich; her aid to the French Resistance during World War II; her role in the shaping of her repertoire and composition of her own songs; her mentoring of singers like Yves Montand and Charles Aznavour as well as her many love affairs. Though her path to stardom was full of tragedies – the death of her daughter in infancy, the death of her great love, the boxer Marcel Cerdan, in a plane crash, illnesses and addictions – Piaf's life was marked in equal measure by her joie de vivre, unstinting generosity, and courageous, resilient heart.

 

New Books in Biography

“That kid Piaf tears your guts out." So said Maurice Chevalier after hearing the 19-year-old newcomer sing in a Parisian nightclub.

 

Chico News and Review

“For younger readers who may not have heard . . . her amazing way of delivering a song, listen to 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien' and try not to be moved.”

 

Revista ISTOÉ Independente (Brazil)

“ . . .Ao ouvir dele que mulher de bandido tem que 'rodar a bolsinha', Piaf respondeu que conhecia uma forma mais rentável de trabalhar nas ruas. Ou seja: cantando.”

 

Columbia Magazine

“[Burke's] engaging, comprehensive new biography . . . offers a vivid and revelatory account of the tragedienne's turbulent life, depicting a fiercely determined, surprisingly reflective woman.”

 

Agence France Presse (Paris)

“Burke wants to remind the world, and France, that Piaf was an entertainer who displayed enormous creativity, courage and resilience, despite her difficulties and personal sorrows.”

 

Independent (Dublin)

“For 30 years, as Carolyn Burke puts it in this concise and compelling book, Piaf had represented 'France to the French,' and 40,000 mourners joined her funeral procession.”

 

New Zealand Herald (Auckland)

“Piaf seems to present the virtues and the resilience of the little people, the spirit of battling on, no matter what your circumstances are, and finding your way.”

 

Santa Cruz Weekly

“Burke's biography of Piaf is a sublime vision in which art captures the artist. . . . Burke's prose builds for readers a life worth living in the most terrible of times. . . . She combines intense, detailed scholarship with a flair for storytelling.”

 

Blogcritics.com

“…a biography that manages to be both scholarly and entertaining about a woman whose life had all the best elements of fiction…”

 

Express (UK)

“. . . as an early advocate of her on French radio put it, [Piaf] had a voice 'that came from the heart rather than her head.' This book pays Piaf the supreme compliment of coming from both the heart and head of its author. You can feel a palpable love for her subject, and there's also clear-headed analysis of what made Piaf tick.”

 

Telegraph (UK)

No Regrets is poised, persuasive and powerful — like the sparrow herself.”

 

Philadelphia Inquirer

“Burke draws the connections between Piaf's life and her songs (offering deft translations of key lyrics), linking the artist with her art, the lover with the thing she loved most — her music.”

 

Irish Times

“It may be a familiar story . . . but Burke's retelling of it is surely the best there can be.”

 

Washington Post

“Piaf has been given good service by Burke, the latest of many biographers but one of only a few writing in English and, more important, that rarity among Piaf biographers, one more interested in the truth than the legend. Achieving truth in biography is impossible, but Burke's Piaf seems very close to the real thing.”

 

Chicago Sun-Times

“. . . her smart, breezily written biography of the singer-songwriter . . . includes 32 pages of wonderfully evocative archival photographs from all periods of Piaf's life.”

 

Miami Herald

“The life and loves of the great French chanteuse Edith Piaf are a biographer's dream, and Carolyn Burke . . . has produced a definitive, thoroughly researched biography.”

 

New York Times

“. . . the concise and gracefully written No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf . . . highlights the strength of 'the chanteuse who reached across social, linguistic and national divides to voice the emotions of ordinary people.'”

 

Barnes & Noble

“It was said of the best interpreters of this tradition — Fréhel, Damia, and soon Piaf herself — that they sang the way they lived, their songs came from the heart.”

 

Marie Claire

“Carolyn Burke's terrific biography of Edith Piaf shucks the simplistic arc of self-destructive urchin to offer a more complex portrait that includes the singer's heroics in the French Resistance . . .”

 

Santa Cruz Sentinel

“With Piaf, Burke takes on arguably her most famous subject, and one who fits the three criteria she's developed in consideration of a subject.”

 

The New York Observer (Spring Arts Preview: Top 10 Books)

“. . . Ms. Burke debunks Piaf's self-created myths and reveals some untold stories.”

 

Booklist (American Library Association)

“. . . a perceptive, supportive, even definitive biography . . .”

 

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Burke's eloquent embrace of the famed French singer . . . details her tragedies and her triumphs, her marriages and her music, and her conquest of America from Carnegie Hall to the Ed Sullivan Show.”

 

Library Journal

“The author is at her most engaging when she reproduces the lyrics of Piaf's songs in both French and English, demonstrating the singer's resounding impact around the world.”

 

Kirkus Reviews

“Though Piaf ruined her health and died young, this lucid, unsentimental appraisal suggests that she had the life she wanted . . .”

 

New Republic

“Burke, the author of equally fine studies of the photographer Lee Miller and the polymorphic modernist Mina Loy, has treated Piaf’s life and work with the uninflated candor, unpretentious intelligence, and creative rigor worthy of her subject. ”