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.

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Published in September 2011 no. 334

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