Friday, 27 May 2011

A Brief Chat With Carolyn Burke

Carolyn Burke is the author of a new biography on Edith Piaf, No Regrets. She was in town for the 2011 Sydney Writers' Festival. 

What was the last book you read and what are you currently reading?
Last: David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Current: Rose Tremain, The Road Home

Which book from your bookshelf at home is your most treasured and why?
An impossible question but I will venture to say in difficult times, the novels of Jane Austen.

What inspired you to write a book about Edith Piaf?
I first heard her songs at 19, when studying at the Sorbonne: they have been a part of me ever since. At the 2006 memorial for Piaf at Pére Lachaise cemetery, where she is buried, I was moved to think I could write her life by drawing on the intimate correspondence between the chanteuse and her spiritual mentor released that year by the Bibliothèque Nationale.

What do you hope readers take away from No Regrets
A sense of Piaf's resilience, generosity, and creative spirit, to counterbalance the commonly held but reductive notion of the singer as self-destructive waif. The sound of her laughter. 

What are you working on next? 
A novel set in Paris just before World War I.
No Regrets is available from Shearer's Bookshop.

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