The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp – Book Review

The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan

Little K was a prima ballerina, the lover of the last Russian tsar. A woman whose determination brought her into the beds of many members of the imperial family, but whose brilliant future was derailed when Russia as she knew it began to disappear, along with her beloved Tsar Nicholas II, and something where the concubine of the Romanovs was a dangerous thing to be. But perhaps it would be best to let Little K introduce herself in her own words, as this is a story she has been endlessly remembering for the past 50 years:

My name is Mathilde Kschessinska, and I was the greatest Russian ballerina on the imperial stages. But the world I was born to, the world I was bred for, is gone, and all the players in it are also gone – dead, murdered, exiled, walking ghosts. -p. 3

Mathilde Kscessinska is a fascinating subject through whose eyes the reader can explore the fall of tsarist Russia. As a member of the Imperial Ballet and daughter of well-respected Catholic Poles as well as the mistress of Tsar Nicholas II and at least two other members of the imperial family, she had a unique point of view for the fall of the empire, particularly as she also had the benefit of hindsight from her Parisian exile. Sharp excelled in creating Little K’s voice. There was a sort of learned regal quality to her thoughts, a self-aware verbosity that spoke of a women reaching to achieve a higher station. Occasionally this resulted in mild distraction, such as when commas extended sentences far too long, or when Little K would digress into future events while telling her story. Still, overall it was done to good effect.

Although some of the more minor characters are easily confused, Little K’s story is a dramatic and interesting one that is told well. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher for BOOK CLUB.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell – Book Review

A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell
Published by Algonquin Books, an imprint of Workman

Set against the backdrop of early 20th century history, in “A Curable Romantic” by Joseph Skibell, we meet Dr. Jakob Sammelsohn, a young Jewish man struggling against his traditional religious background and the scientific progress of the new century. As a young man in Vienna, he falls in love with a young woman at the opera, a woman who is both a patient of Dr. Freud and, possibly, inhabited by a dybbuk of the dead wife Jakob never loved. As he continues to grapple with the inherent contradictions in his life, Sammelsohn is involved first with Dr. Freud, then with the Esperanto movement.

One of my favorite things about historical fiction is learning about topics about which I know nothing. Enter: the society around Dr. Freud and the Esperanto movement. Skibell does a fantastic job of making the time and place come alive. I felt that I could get a firm grasp on the broad historical strokes surrounding both Freud’s early work and the history of the Esperanto movement, and how both of these things attempted to bridge a gap between a past their leaders would see as superstitious and a future that might look upon both of them as naive. I also appreciated the look  at the role of Jews in European society that felt real, without seeming too much like Skibell was trying to get across A. Message. My only qualm with this book is that it was 600 pages long, which was perhaps a little longer than it really needed to  be.

Interesting, well-written, informative historical fiction. Recommended.

Thanks to Beth Fish Reads, who has helped me to become more aware of the imprints I love over the past year, beginning with her Amy Einhorn Perpetual Challenge. Follow her blog for regular spotlights of some of her favorite imprints.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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