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The True Memoirs of Little K

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3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  685 ratings  ·  149 reviews
Exiled in Paris, tiny, one-hundred-year-old Mathilde Kschessinska sits down to write her memoirs before all that she believes to be true is forgotten. A lifetime ago, she was the vain, ambitious, impossibly charming prima ballerina assoluta of the tsar’s Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. Now, as she looks back on her tumultuous life, she can still recall every sli ...more
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,321)
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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:
http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_T...

Jerelyn
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 val ...more
Betty
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
...more
Jaime Boler
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 ski ...more
Jenny
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 inte ...more
Daisy
Jun 01, 2011 Daisy rated it 3 of 5 stars
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.




Mimi
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
...more
Donna
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 th ...more
Helen Azar
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
Acacia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex
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 narrati ...more
Sara
Feb 11, 2012 Sara rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Anne
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 risin ...more
Lora King
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
...more
Annemarie Bohn
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.
Brianna Mulligan
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 S ...more
Cristina
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
Mia
An interesting read for those who have a little knowledge of imperial Russia. Also, very amusing and easy to read. However…

The novel is not more than a step-by-step description of what has happened, that is, the plot is the primary and possibly the only matter. Luckily, the plot itself is interesting enough. Characters lack debt and emotions that accompany the actions. I would assume that Little K was quite of a character – after all, she was below average beauty, not particularly smart and lack
...more
Clare
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.
Janet
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!
Rebecca
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
Francesca
La ballerina dello Zar è un romanzo che racconta uno dei periodi che più amati della Russia. La Russia di Zar Nicola, quella che ha corso come un treno verso il suo fallimento e la sua caduta. La storia si dipana attraverso i racconti di Mathilde, eccellente ballerina di origine polacca e amante dello Zar Nicola e di diversi altri Romanov. E' un romanzo quasi sempre gradevole, che racconta la Russia attraverso gli occhi privilegiati di chi non aveva ragioni per lamentarsi del vecchio regime. Il ...more
Tessa
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)
...more
Marie Wreath
Linking up my blog's posted review, LOVED THIS BOOK!!! So far, easily my favorite piece of historical fiction.

http://thelazyw.blogspot.com/2012/01/...
Kat
The brutality of Russian history fascinates me and I find myself returning to books on the last Tsar of Russia time and time again. Adrienne Sharp's novel, The True Memoirs of Little K, tells the story of the last monarch of Russia through the eyes of Mathilde Kschessinska, Nicholas II's first love.

Mathilde Kschessinska, or as Nicholas affectionately calls her 'Little K' is a famous Russian ballerina. At the tender age of seventeen she catches the eye of the Grand Duke Nicholas, and as the passi
...more
Miraphora
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
...more
Jaclyn Day
The True Memoirs of Little K is the first-person, faux-memoirs of Mathilde Kschessinska, a prima ballerina who danced for the Russian court in the final years before the Romanov empire was dissolved. Based on real events (and some real people), Sharp’s characterization of Mathilde (nicknamed “Little K”) gives this mostly imagined novel the feeling of actual memoirs.

Without giving too much away, Mathilde’s memoirs follow her career in ballet, to her becoming the mistress to a prominent figure in
...more
Lisa
“Little K” was Mathilde Kschessinska, prima ballerina assoluta of the Russian Imperial Ballet during the final decades of the monarchy, mistress of noblemen and even the tsar.
The novel — despite being populated with real people and plotted with real events, this is a novel — opens with 100-year-old Mathilde recounting her life’s story, beginning with her days as a flirtatious ballet student, and moving through her torrid affairs and lifelong passion for Tsar Nicholas II, her illegitimate son (i
...more
Ciara
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
...more
Kristin
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 suc ...more
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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 Con ...more
More about Adrienne Sharp...
White Swan, Black Swan First Love Une étoile pour le tsar La ballerina dello zar First Love

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“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
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