The True Memoirs of Little K
By Adrienne Sharp
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312610715, 400pp.)
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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A California Book Award Finalist
One of Oprah’s Book Club’s Ten Fantastic Books for Fall 2010
Historical Novel Review Editors’ Choice
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 history, from the seething beginnings of revolution to the end of a grand, decadent way of life that belonged to the nineteenth century. Based on fact, The True Memoirs of Little K is “an engrossing tale of love, loss, and history” (The Wichita Eagle).
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 Conference. She is the author of White Swan, Black Swan and The Sleeping Beauty.
- The novel’s title claims these are Mathilde’s true memoirs. Is any memoir entirely true? What aspects of his or her life might a memoirist attempt to conceal—or rewrite? What is illuminating about reading a fictionalized account of someone’s life as opposed to an autobiography or a biography?
Praise for The True Memoirs of Little K
“I tore through this delectable book like a box of elegantly crafted chocolates. Even now, I keep riffling through the crumpled gold wrappers, wishing there were more. A fascinating, carefully researched, and intricately rendered portrait of the last tsar and his clever, talented, and wildly ambitious mistress, the prima ballerina assoluta Mathilde Kschessinska. Bravo, Little K.” —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black
“This novel is a rare and rich pleasure, full of exquisite details of the Russian imperial court, of ballet, of diamonds, of intricate love affairs backstage in theaters and palaces in a vanished world.” —Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Young Stalin and Sashenka
“Mistress of grand dukes and of Russia’s last tsar, Mathilde Kschessinska was the fabled prima ballerina assoluta of St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet during the empire’s last decades. In The True Memoirs of Little K, Adrienne Sharp reveals the passion, greed, and lust for life behind the fairy tale of the ballerina’s real memoirs, and the secret about her son’s paternity that it’s easy to believe just might be true.” —Lynn Garafola, author of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes
Praise for The Sleeping Beauty
“Compulsively readable . . . [An] undeniably juicy portrayal of offstage life during the ‘ballet boom’ . . . The plot zips along on Sharp’s lyrical writing style, and emotionality rises like steam off the page.” —Rachel Howard, San Francisco Chronicle
“Harrowing in its on- and off-stage depictions of desire and disappointment, rendered with writing that is hauntingly lyrical . . . Sharp brings to life the beauty, magic and all-consuming passion of the professional dance world.” —Lea Aschkenas, Los Angeles Times
Praise for White Swan, Black Swan
“Compels us to consider the troubled hearts and souls inside the agile bodies that astonish us with their ability to defy gravity and to exceed our wildest dreams of what the body can do.” —Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine