The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild by Hannah Rothschild - review by Anne Sebba

Anne Sebba

Monky Business

The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild


Virago 307pp £20 order from our bookshop

Nica de Koenigswarter, née Rothschild, left her diplomat husband and five children to live alone in a New York hotel, where she liked to practise pistol shooting on the light bulbs in order to ‘keep her eye in’ after the war. Unsurprisingly the management were unhappy about this activity and from time to time Nica’s brother, Victor Rothschild, had to go over and pacify them. When Nica herself confirmed the story to her great-niece Hannah, author of this biography, she added her own spin: ‘The manager said we don’t mind if you shoot our staff, but please leave our chandeliers alone.’

It is just one bizarre tale in this lovingly compiled memoir about an eccentric member of one of the nineteenth century’s richest families, who dedicated her life to jazz, devotedly supporting Thelonius Monk until his death in 1982. More than twenty of his pieces were dedicated to, or named after,

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