Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The True Memoirs of Little K” as Want to Read:
The True Memoirs of Little K
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The True Memoirs of Little K

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  748 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
The True Memoirs of Little K: A Novel
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The True Memoirs of Little K, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The True Memoirs of Little K

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Rebecca Huston
A novel about Mathilde Kschessinskaya, the mistress of Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia. While there are some good things in here, and plenty of description and emotional writing, this turned into a wallbanger very quickly. YMMV.

For the complete review, please go here:

Jan 15, 2012 Jerelyn rated it really liked it
I have just finished reading Adrienne Sharp's The True Memoirs of Little K, about Mathilde Kschessinska. It sounds like a biography but it is indeed a novel. Mathilde was the mistress of the future Nicholas II beginning when she was 17 and newly graduated from St Petersburg Imperial Ballet School, for 3 years ending when married Alexandria, but their friendship lasted a life time. The facts seem to bear this out. She was made prima ballerina assoluta in 1896, and she acquired a great deal of ...more
Jul 15, 2015 Betty rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
The strength of this book is in it's character study and the rich detailed world-building created. And Mathilde Kschessinka is a strong character (and who doesn't like political manoeuvring and manipulations?) but she is stacked against qualities I disliked. It reads best as a character study than anything more.

I am biased against this novel in that I prefer tight, crisp language, where this book has chosen to focus on an overabundance of detail that wavers between adding to the atmosphere and
Jaime Boler
Oct 27, 2011 Jaime Boler rated it it was amazing
Mathilde Kschessinska (1872-1971) comes to life in Adrienne Sharp's The True Memoirs of Little K in the same way she lit up the stage as a ballet dancer. Kschessinska rose up in the ranks of the Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg to become prima ballerina assoluta with a little help from her powerful paramour, Tsar Nicholas II. Sharp successfully recreates the splendor, extravagance, and excess of a dynasty whose days were numbered, though no one knew it. In fact, Sharp's storytelling ...more
Jennifer Long
Aug 09, 2011 Jennifer Long rated it really liked it
If you love richly detailed historical fiction, read this, and then read City of Shadows by Arianna Franklin. This one is set in Russia during the reign of Czar Nicholas and the Bolshevik revolution, written as a memoir of the Czar's mistress, a famous Russian ballerina. City of Shadows picks up with the execution of the Czar's family and is set in pre-WWII Germany, the inflation and food shortages that led to anti-Jewish sentiment and the rise of Hitler. It's a mystery-thriller with a love ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Daisy rated it liked it
Recommended to Daisy by: from Janet Fitch's shelf
Nauseating excess and greed. A ballerina who only knows one way to take care of herself and that is to be kept by royalty. Well, and lying.
You don't have to like her to like the book. An entertaining, engrossing read.
3+ stars

I have always admired an opportunist, being one myself.--that pretty much sums up Little K.

Aug 09, 2012 Acacia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2011 Alex rated it really liked it
Relentlessly ambitious, Mathilde Kschessinska charms, connives, and chassés her way to the center of the Romanov stage. The famed ballerina is the mistress of not one, but three members of the imperial family, including Nicholas II himself. The story of her scandalous life, told in the form of a dictated memoir, opens to us a world of splendor and intrigue that has long since disappeared. Little K, as her "Niki" called her, saw Russia at its most opulent and its most terrifying, and her ...more
Helen Azar
Aug 03, 2011 Helen Azar rated it liked it
So, if I was writing this review when I was only half way through the book, it would have definitely gotten 5 stars from me. As things stand, I was going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, and the reason I wanted to give it 4 was because of an excellent and elegant writing style and also an interesting story which was readable and entertaining. Here is why I ended up giving it only 3 stars(this will contain SPOILERS!). It is a clearly well researched novel, and the first half is historically ...more
Feb 11, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I'm not a ballet person (though I'd love to take some adult classes) and don't know much beyond the popular lore about Russian history in the early 20th century, but I still found a LOT to interest me in this book.

As usual, Adrienne Sharp's writing is beautiful! Just hearing her words inside your head as you read is a wonderful experience!

I really loved this book much more than The Sleeping Beauty, though I still think the author shines the most in her short story collection White Swan, Black Sw
May 10, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it
If it's historical fiction and involves the sordid lives and excesses of monarchs and their courts, count me in. But this story has an added incentive, centering on the life and career of a world famous ballerina. Written as a fictional memoir by one-hundred-year-old Mathilde Kschessinska, former prima ballerina assoluta of the Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg at the turn of the (last) century, this story captures a time at the intersection of the decline of the Romanov empire and ...more
Sep 18, 2010 Donna rated it it was ok
I was delighted to have the opportunity to preview this novel, written as the memoir of a prestigious ballerina who has a life-long affair with the last czar of Russia. The novel appears to have been very well-researched. If anything, I felt that Adrienne Sharp was overly ambitious in presenting so much detail of the history of the fall of the Romanovs. I really struggled through the first half of the book, which read more like a textbook than a novel. Things picked up in the second half, but ...more
Lora King
Feb 09, 2011 Lora King rated it really liked it
After coming off the bestseller Cleopatra, I wasn't eager to jump into another book on history, but this was just a wonderful read. I have loved the story of the Tsar since going to see Nicholas & Alexandra at the movies oh...way back when...and after seeing the movie I read the book it was based on twice. I've loved the stories through the years about Anastasia. So this looked like something I would enjoy, and enjoy it I did.

Historical fiction at it's finest. Loved how alive the characters
Sep 08, 2014 Mimi rated it liked it
Interestingly, when I looked up Mathilde on Wikipedia, it turns out she was born 100 years to the day before me, so that made figuring out how old she was at each juncture easy :) and she lived to be nearly 100, may God grant me a similarly long life.

A very solid, well written, interesting historical fiction (and sometimes more fiction than others, as the author admits in the author's notes) about Tsar Nikolai II's mistress, the dancer Mathilde Kschessinska. Now and then, a bit of a dense, heavy
Brianna Mulligan
Jun 15, 2011 Brianna Mulligan rated it really liked it
I always loved ballet, and with sensations such as Black Swan and ballerina fashion taking center stage, this topic has never been more popular. Sharp does not dive into the performance aspect of the plot, instead focusing on the inner workings of an imperfect narrator. It was also engaging and provoking to read about the Russian Revolution from the other side of the tracks, as the main character is wealthy and insprired by the czarist-run government. I love the idea of historical fiction, and ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Janet rated it it was amazing
The latest book by Adrienne Sharp, coming out in November, a beautiful, intensely researched, fantastically well-imagined historical novel about the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska, the mistress of Nicholas II, and her lovers, her ambition, her place vis a vis the court... sorry again to recommend a book that's not out yet!! But I was all over this one--nobody writes about dance the way Adrienne Sharp does. Now she's on a larger stage... get ready!
Sep 15, 2011 Clare rated it it was ok
Reading The True Memoirs of Little K, which is essentially a bloated outline rather than an actual novel, can only lead the reader to one conclusion—Adrienne Sharp wanted to write a novel about Nicholas II. Why else would she only focus on the interesting prima ballerina assoluta Matilde Kschessinska when she’s sleeping with him, even when she has to twist history to keep him in her life? It’s a disservice to the woman and a disservice to the reader. Avoid.
Annemarie Bohn
May 26, 2015 Annemarie Bohn rated it it was amazing
Great read, although some of the theories don't hold up against history, but a wonderful book and insight into a time I haven't read much about or studied.
Marie Wreath
Jan 21, 2012 Marie Wreath rated it it was amazing
Linking up my blog's posted review, LOVED THIS BOOK!!! So far, easily my favorite piece of historical fiction.
Nov 29, 2016 Deidra rated it really liked it
Slow read but interesting story of life in Bolshevik Russia
The danger with historical fiction is that an author can take history and literally make it fantasy if not careful. This is not the case with Adrienne Sharp's The True Memoirs of Little K. One quick Internet search showcases how much of Ms. Sharp's tale dovetails nicely with the facts. This heightens the element of plausibility in these "True Memoirs", adding to the reader's overall enjoyment and fascination with the last years of the Czar.

Kschessinska is quite the character. She is selfish, ego
Sep 09, 2014 Cristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mi chiamo Mathilde Kschessinska e sono stata la più grande ballerina russa nei teatri dell’impero. Ma il mondo in cui sono nata, il mondo nel quale sono cresciuta, è scomparso, così come sono scomparsi i suoi protagonisti: morti, uccisi, esiliati, ridotti a fantasmi ambulanti. Io sono uno di quei fantasmi. Oggi, nell’Unione Sovietica, è proibito pronunciare il mio nome. Le autorità lo hanno cancellato dalla storia del teatro. A novantanove anni, sono una vecchia signora con i capelli avvolti in ...more
Nov 29, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many know the story of the fall of the Romanovs, the splendor of the imperial court toppled by revolutionaries, but author Adrienne Sharp tells the somewhat familiar history in a brand new way. The True Memoirs of Little K begins in Paris in 1971 with the blunt and rather boastful introduction, "My name is Mathilde Kschessinska, and I was the greatest Russian ballerina on the imperial stages." The tale which is unraveled from the memories of an old woman is that of Russia - before, during, and ...more
May 09, 2012 L rated it really liked it
Maybe it's because I grew up as Gorbachev and Regan ended the Cold War and teaching Russian history in depth was not very popular, but I don't have good sense of Russian history. In my last semester of college I realized that I had signed up for three courses that were overlapping; one of which was a US/Russia technology transfer course which to my surprise required not only understanding of Russian culture but also a few semesters of Russian language. I was able to drop the course and rectify ...more
May 13, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Il mio cuore si spezzava ogni volta che la storia di Mala si scontrava con il mondo incantato di Anastasia raccontato dalla Disney. Ma dovete capirmi, io con quel film ci sono quasi cresciuta e negli anni è rimasto uno dei miei film Disney preferiti. Eppure non riuscivo a staccarmene, tanto che in tre notti l'ho finito. La storia è ovviamente romanzata ma, visto che le mie conoscenze sulla storia russa risalgono a quanto ricordo delle lezioni di storia del liceo (sono passati solo quattro anni, ...more
Jan 04, 2014 Tessa rated it really liked it
I'm from the Netherlands so i'm sorry if my english isn't always correct.

If you look at the story itself, then this was truly a wonderful book, I really enjoyed it. Historically, not so much. If you write about characters who have really existed you have – in my opinion - a certain obligation to them and that is to tell their story as truthfully as possible and to stay as close to the facts as possible.

That did not happen here.

(view spoiler)
This was a beautifully written, engaging novel. Often what you read of the Russian Revolution comes from the point of view of the people (i.e. the sections in Follett's Fall of Giants) or the Romanovs themselves. Having a slightly removed observer, in the person of Little K, a ballerina who is the mistress of three different Romanov men (including the tsar when he is still the tsarevich). She is clearly a woman whose world revolves around herself (at least until the birth of her son), and as ...more
Quando non so nulla di un argomento di solito faccio una cosa banale che mi permette di capire se voglio approfondire o meno. Cerco un romanzo, una storia romanzata, un saggio infiocchettato, una biografia, insomma qualcosa che mi dia un'idea generale e un po' abbellita di quell'argomento.
Mi rendo conto che questo depone a mio sfavore e che, se si vuole veramente conoscere qualcosa bisogna puntare direttamente su un testo storicamente accurato, ma non riesco - con tutta la buona volontà - a butt
Silvia Liotta
Mathilde è cresciuta con la danza nelle vene: tutta la sua famiglia ha calcato
le scene del teatro al cospetto dello Zar e il suo futuro non sarà da meno.
Sin da piccolissima i suoi piedini e la sua figura hanno stregato il pubblico
ma non saranno solo quelli a conquistare il cuore dell'ultimo Zar di tutte
le Russie. Un romanzo storico che attraverso i ricordi dell'ormai ultra
novantenne Mathilde ripercorre la vita dello Zar e i fasti della Russia prima
dell'avvento del comunismo. Rifiugiatasi a Parig
Dec 29, 2011 Ciara rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2011
i'm sure this book is just fantastic for people who either know a lot about russian history (especially the last tsar & his family) &/or are captivated by the history of russian ballet. but seeing as how i fall into neither camp, reading this book was like the literary equivalent of training for a marathon. i kind of felt like it would be good for me & i guess i'm glad i did it, but i definitely did not have fun.

i'm not sure how many editions of this book exist, but mine had the most
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Generations of Winter
  • The Tsarina's Daughter
  • Ice Road
  • Alice in Exile
  • Rasputin's Daughter
  • Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina
  • The Tsar's Dwarf
  • Anastasia
  • George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker
  • The Flamenco Academy
  • The Last Romanov
  • Being Polite to Hitler
  • Margot Fonteyn
  • The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery
  • Little Mother of Russia: A Biography of the Empress Marie Feodorovna (1847-1928)
  • Sashenka
  • Russian Winter
  • Dancing for Degas
Adrienne Sharp entered the world of ballet at age seven and trained at the prestigious Harkness Ballet in New York. She received her M.A. with honors from the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Henry Hoyns Fellowship at the University of Virginia. She has been a fiction fellow at MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Squaw Valley Writer’s ...more
More about Adrienne Sharp...

Share This Book

“So whatever you think of me, don't pity me. I had a beautiful life. I was loved, admired, feted, copied, mocked, treasured, and feared. I am one hundred years old and I am no longer afraid of anything.” 3 likes
“There is no greater pleasure than winning a competition with one's sister and no greater sorrow than to see her suffer because of it.” 3 likes
More quotes…