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Imperial Dancer

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  68 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
The vivacious Mathilde Kschessinska (1872-1971) was the mistress of three Russian Grand Dukes and the greatest ballerina of her generation. As a young girl, she had enjoyed romantic troika rides, and passionate nights, with the future Tsar Nicholas II. When their relationship ended Mathilde began simultaneous affairs with Nicholas's cousin, Grand Duke Sergei and Grand Duke ...more
ebook, 583 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by History Press (SC) (first published September 25th 2005)
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Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I picked up this book to read, I thought maybe it would be dull and dry. This was a history book about a woman I'd never heard of, set in a time I know little about. It was also about ballet, something I've never been into.

It ended up being one of those magical books that smashes all your low expectations and drags you into the pages.

Mathilde Kschessinska is a fascinating woman. A famous Russian ballerina, mistress to 3 members of the Romanov family, including the Tsar. Her life story is
Laura Edwards
Before even reaching page 100, the message was clear. Kschessinska was a spoiled, egotistical, materialistic, conniving b****. If she had a good side, it was not aptly conveyed in this book. And dry paragraphs listing dates for births, weddings and deaths were tedious and far too frequent. Also, continually alluding to an ongoing affair with Nicholas II (which most historians agree ended once he married) before reluctantly conceding the fact proved wearisome and only seemed meant to titillate. A ...more
I gave up all TV except for movies this past months and it has definitely influenced my reading habits. This book I've been absorbing in fits and starts for the past two years. Finished! Tada! It reads a little bit like a grocery list, but it is very thorough and good at filling in some historical gaps. I've always been very interested in ballet from the turn of the 20th Century until the 50s or so, so this is yet one more character to add to that story.

Kschessinska would be much more fun novel
Rebecca Huston
A very good biography about Mathilde Kschessinska, the mistress of Nicholas II before he married Alexandra Feodorovna. Here the author stays within the known facts and reveals the ballerina, warts and all, and does a fairly good job of it. Recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:

Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, sacred-dance
Wow. An exhaustive account of her life, with lots of juicy details and intrigues. I would only recommend this to a fellow ballet dancer or ballet dance fanatic. What fascinates me so much is how different she was from Pavlova. I think she loved the glamour of the theater more than the dance itself. For Pavlova, all there was in life was the dance. Also, there are many instances detailing her jealousies about Pavlova, which I personally find hilarious.

A fascinating life indeed!
May 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very tiresome reading. Too many names, dates, dry facts and only a little psychological analysis. I would have expected to know more about her dancing, rather than her jewels and dresses. However, it seems that the latter was more important to her and the dance was only the way to approval and wealth.
Victoria Shepherd
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating portrait of decadence to poverty, and the indomitable spirit of a ferociously talented woman. I longed for photographs, though.
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Coryne Hall is an historian, broadcaster and consultant specialising in the Romanovs and British and European royalty. She was born in Ealing, West London and developed a fascination for Imperial Russia in childhood when she learnt that her great-grandmother was born in St Petersburg, an almost exact contemporary of Nicholas II. The author of six books, she is a regular contributor to Majesty maga ...more
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