Jennifer Otter Bickerdike goes deep into uncovering what made this complex woman tick ... A labor of love of a biography that highlights the contradictions of a woman who could be charming and monstrous ... Bickerdike’s feminist agenda sits uneasily on Nico, given that the singer steered clear of any kind of ideology ... Nonetheless, the details the author has unearthed shine through. It is a gripping portrait of one of the most fascinating figures in late 20th-century music.
Ms. Bickerdike...digs deeper than any prior biographer. She unearths a unique artistic temperament stunted by the complications of an underground life ... You Are Beautiful brings focus to what had been blurry episodes in Nico’s history, including a traumatic childhood in Cologne under Nazi rule ... Ms. Bickerdike doesn’t make false claims about Nico’s achievements. Rather, she has rounded out what had been an incomplete portrait, obscured by myths, of a woman who fought hard to become an artist worthy of a book like this.
The book does occasionally get bogged down by the sheer number of interviews it tries to squeeze in ... This is a detailed and sympathetic retelling of a life too often dimmed by harsh criticism or careless hearsay.