Many know the story of the fall of the Romanovs, the splendor of the imperial court toppled by revolutionaries, but author Adrienne Sharp tells the somewhat familiar history in a brand new way. The True Memoirs of Little K begins in Paris in 1971 with the blunt and rather boastful introduction, "My name is Mathilde Kschessinska, and I was the greatest Russian ballerina on the imperial stages." The tale which is unraveled from the memories of an old woman is that of Russia - before, during, and after the upheaval of its royalty - told through one of its most famous artists.
Adrienne Sharp draws heavily on true events to create this book, weaving in some fiction and speculation only as a garnish for the facts. I greatly enjoyed learning more about the time period of the last Russian tsars, the culture of the ballet, and the atmosphere of the Russian revolution. Though Kschessinska lends a human perspective to the events, I never really connected with her as a character. I found her rather unlikeable, but in a way that did make her more realistic as a flawed historical figure. The way that the story was told, as memoirs from a flashback point of view, was also a bit distracting. The narration would occasionally jump between different past occurrences and although the non-linear trajectory served to remind the reader of the elderly Kschessinska, I would have preferred to fully embrace the historical setting.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it took me a little while to warm up to the narrator and the storytelling style. It wasn't a very quick read, but I would definitely recommend it to those interested in the subject matter and time period.