Bitter Crop: The Heartache and Triumph of Billie Holiday’s Last Year

Knopf. Feb. 2024. 368p. ISBN 9780593315903. $32. BIOG
Alexander (Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath) adopts a unique narrative structure in this biography based on the last year of Billie Holiday’s life. That is when she developed a severe case of cirrhosis of the liver after years of a substance use disorder. As Alexander counts down the months until the singer’s death in July of 1959 at the age of 44, he acquaints readers with the salient events and characters that made up the story of her life by moving back and forth in time, which may confuse some readers. Throughout, the book describes Holiday’s singular legacy in the world and her live performances; some were triumphant, whereas others were labeled “disastrous.”
VERDICT Ultimately, this book achieves a successful and accurate tribute to Lady Day and her immense talent while also painting a stark and honest portrait of her life and hardships. Recommended for fans of jazz and the legendary Holiday.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing