The True Memoirs of Little K

Written by Adrienne Sharp
Review by Nan Curnutt

Mathilde Kschessinska, called Little K by Nicholas II, was at one time prima ballerina assoluta in the Russian Imperial Ballet and mistress to Nicholas II. These fictional memoirs, based on historical fact, describe the lavish lives of the Russian imperial family and the theatrical personalities of St. Petersburg’s ballerinas who served at their pleasure in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Little K was vain, ambitious and determined. She let nothing get in her way. At 17 years of age, she became mistress to the future Tsar, Nicholas Romanov, even though this brought disgrace to her Polish Catholic family. She pursued her high ranking status with equal determination, doing anything possible to defeat her rivals, including blackening their reputation or using her imperial connections to maintain her position.

This story is written in the voice of Mathilde Kschessinska, now 99 years old, from her apartment in Paris. She is enjoying the superiority of outsmarting and outliving the very families that looked down upon her.

Adrienne Sharp understands the devotion to perfection that drives successful dancers because she was a ballerina herself. The True Memoirs of Little K is an example of her attention to detail, shown by her extensive research and grasp of the history of this period. This book is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Tsar Nicholas II, the decline of the Russian empire or the history of Russian ballet, as well as lovers of historical fiction.