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.

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