Carolyn Burke: No Regrets

Sparrow on the Eiffel Tower

Colin Nettelbeck


No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf
by Carolyn Burke
Bloomsbury, $32.99 pb, 282 pp, 9781408819982


In the autumn of 1962, as a student in Paris, I went to watch Edith Piaf perform atop the Eiffel Tower. My memory is of being in a thick crowd at ground level, straining to see a tiny floodlit figure while a huge metallic voice resounded across the night sky: ‘Non, je ne regrette rien …’ In this new biography of Piaf, Carolyn Burke reminds us that this was a publicity event for the launch of Daryl Zanuck’s film about D-Day, The Longest Day. Piaf, at forty-six, her health ruined, had only a year to live, but still managed to overcome her frailty and her fear of heights to project her whole being into the iconic image that the world had of her.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Colin Nettelbeck

Colin Nettelbeck

Colin Nettelbeck is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne, where he held the A.R. Chisholm Chair of French. He taught previously at the University of California (Berkeley) and Monash University. He has written extensively about twentieth-century and contemporary French literature, cinema, and cultural history, with special focus on the French experience of World War II. His most recent book is Dancing with de Beauvoir: Jazz and the French, published by Melbourne University Press in 2004. His essay ‘Kneecapper: a Trip to Happiness’ (published in the Autumn 2011 Meanjin Quarterly) was shortlisted for the 2010 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. He was awarded second prize in the 2012 Calibre Prize for ‘Now They’ve Gone’.

Published in September 2011 no. 334

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.