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The True Memoirs of Little K

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  1,009 ratings  ·  182 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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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:

Jaime Boler
Oct 27, 2011 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 ski ...more
I was hooked with the storytelling from the viewpoint if one in the arts and was enjoying the story, but about halfway through the book, I began to lose interest as the story became flat with additional information. The author did not hold my interest.
Jennifer Long
Aug 08, 2011 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 inte ...more
Sep 15, 2011 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.
Diane S ☔
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Littlr K was a ballerina and also mistress to the tsarevich Nicholas. This is a novel about ballet, but also Russian history and the tumultous years leading up to the Russian Revolution.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terry Mckone
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't have enough background knowledge to know what was real and what was fiction while reading this book. Once I read it just as fiction I enjoyed it more. I wonder how things would have been different with the Romanovs if they had been more in touch with the people of their country. In the story Mathilda Kschessinska comes across as vain, ambitious, and self absorbed. She as well as many other people in the book suffered from a sense of entitlement.
Feb 27, 2011 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 narrati ...more
Helen Azar
Aug 01, 2011 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
May 03, 2011 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 risin ...more
Aug 17, 2010 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 th ...more
Lora King
Feb 01, 2011 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 beca
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fiction book, based on facts, was a view of the end of the Romanov dynasty from a unique perspective, the outside looking in. Little K was an Imperial prima ballerina and Tsar Nicholas II mistress. She had a unique connection to him, his family and the end of an era. There was no actual dialogue, but hearing the story from the first person point of view of one woman's voice and memories was poignant and emotional.I also would highly recommend The True Memoir's of Little K. The book is ficti ...more
Brianna Rabe
Jun 15, 2011 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 S ...more
Aug 31, 2014 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
Jul 28, 2010 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!
Jul 29, 2010 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.

Marie Wreath
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Linking up my blog's posted review, LOVED THIS BOOK!!! So far, easily my favorite piece of historical fiction.
Annemarie Bohn
May 26, 2015 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.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review is based on an ARC from Edelweiss.

This novel is a historical "what-if" set in the end of the late Russian empire. The conceit is that we're reading the memoirs of Mathilde Kshesinskaia, a dancer who did indeed write her memoirs at one point in her later years. The book focuses heavily on Kshesinskaia's adult life and her romance with the future Nicholas II, with about 70% of the book (in my estimation) focusing on K's life from meeting Nicholas through her departure from Russia.

Lynette Gaines
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
If you're going to write a book of historical fiction with a few tidbits of truth thrown in, the last title I would give it is The True Memoirs of Little K. After reading non-fiction books about Russia over the years I thought this one sounded like fun but I was mistaken. The main character is so unlikable it makes me wonder why anyone would care to read about her. Self centered, thinking only of herself and a son that I'm not even sure she ever had I'm almost disappointed that she escaped to Pa ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: boobluck-2017
I liked it. I liked learning a little more about the Romanov family and old Russia. Mathilde was a funny character to me. She was spoiled, privileged and manipulative but a true survivor. I admired that strength more than disliked her other traits. Interesting story based on horrors in history.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
the voice is detestable, but the setting is intriguing.
Joey Sharpe
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Haunting and elegiac. Great historical fiction!
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I watched a few history channel videos on the Romanov family to remind me about this period in Russian history. It enabled me to enjoy this book more then I would have otherwise.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I enjoyed gaining a deeper understanding of the Bolshevik revolution, but the book was slow at times and the main character rather flat and unrelateable.
Nancy Gillies
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Having recently read Anna Karenina, I appreciated learning much more about the circumstances of the doomed Russian aristocracy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, I felt that Sharp was determined to cram as many historical details as possible into this novel at the expense of developing fully fleshed characters. The narrator, Little K as she was called by Tsar Nicholas II, is a woman who uses her artistry as a ballerina and her ambitions for herself and her son to thri ...more
Carolyn Russett
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exiled in Paris, the frail, elderly Mathilde Kschessinska sits down to write her memoirs. A lifetime ago, she was the vain, ambitious, impossibly charming prima ballerina assoluta of the tsar’s Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. Kschessinska’s riveting storytelling soon thrusts us into a world lost to time: that great intersection of the Russian court and the Russian theater. Through Kschessinska’s memories of her own triumphs and defeats, we witness the stories that changed histor ...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

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