The first English-language biography of the great French singer and cult-figure, Edith Piaf. Crosland, who has written biographies of Jean Cocteau and Colette, as well as Beyond the Lighthouse, a study of 20th-century English female novelists, shatters a few myths here while paying homage to the rare genius of this unlikely icon. As one of the diminutive of Piaf's lovers, the French cyclist Louis Gerardin said, ""Forty-eight hours with Piaf are more tiring than a lap in the Tour de France."" Piaf's frenetic life--compressed into 48 short years--seemed to be a buffer from a past from which she always ran but from which she somehow never quite broke loose. In leading such a fast-paced life, she had difficulty separating her own truths from the legends developed around her. Piaf, for instance, always went along with the story that she was mid-wived under a lamppost by gendarmes, while Crosland pretty much dispels the tale as a myth. So, too, with Piaf's purported blindness as a young girl, cured in Piaf's version by the intervention of Saint Theresa--a blindness which Crosland insists most likely never occured. Piaf's life was like a self-fulfilling prophecy--misery expected become reality. (Two of her lovers, for example, died in plane crashes, one was seriously injured in a car crash.) Crosland brings this life to us in way that none of the other French-originated biographies (or, indeed, Piaf's two totally different autobiographies) have--free of any personal investments or idol worshipping. This is an important work, then, for anyone wanting to know the real Piaf. Its importance is enhanced by a complete discography of Piaf's songs as well as a filmography of the nine movies in which she appeared.