William Palmer

The Lion and the Child

With Billie


Jonathan Cape 356pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

First what this book is not. It may be, as its publisher claims, ‘an extraordinary and haunting new life’ of the great jazz singer Billie Holiday, but it is not a conventional, chronologically arranged biography. JuliaBlackburn has taken a series of tape-recorded interviews conducted over thirty years ago by Linda Kuehl , added research of her own, and presented a kaleidoscopic and disjointed portrait of her subject, and the first clear evocation that I have read of the world from which Billie emerged and in which she lived. It is a series of views, often extraordinarily contradictory, seen through the eyes of childhood friends, lovers, drunks, pimps, narcotics agents, and musicians. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter