Tag Archives: Russia

Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Adrienne Sharp is a critically acclaimed author and national bestseller.

Her work often immerses readers in the world of ballet. She knows it well. She began her ballet career at the age of seven. Sharp trained at the prestigious Harkness Ballet in New York.

But in the midst of her grueling and rigorous training, Sharp began to question her life’s path.

“One day, while doing grands battements at the barre, I had a traitorous thought, which was simply: I’m sick of doing this. So I left ballet and began the task of assembling a regular life – a difficult task when you don’t have the glamorous discipline of tooling the body. I began to write to help me get through it. And when I started to write about ballet, the two halves of my life came together.” 

She received her M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Henry Hoyns Fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Her other books include The Magnificent Esme Wells, First Love, The Sleeping Beauty, and White Swan, Black Swan

The True Memoirs of Little K was a finalist for the California Book Award, an Oprah Book Club selection, and has been translated into six languages.

More from Adrienne Sharp —
Read:
On The Magnificent Esme Wells
On historical ballet
Listen:
On Old Hollywood
Watch:
On Mathilde Kschessinska – Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE

Part 3, coming soon! 

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Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #5 in the Finding Delight Book Club. Can you believe we’re already this far into the year?! If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month’s pick is The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“So whatever you think of me, don’t pity me. I had a beautiful life. I was loved, admired, feted, copied, mocked, treasured, and feared. I am one hundred years old and I am no longer afraid of anything.” 

Synopsis

The year is 1971 in Paris, France and ninety-nine year old Mathilde Kschessinska begins to recant the story of her life. In what feels like a different world, she was the self-centered, flirtatious, determined “prima ballerina assoluta” of the Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. She remembers a time when the Russian court was inextricably linked to the ballet. And vice versa.

As she carefully reconstructs each chapter of her life, her conquests and failures, we are given box seats to view the very stories that would change the course of history, both for Russia and the world. We witness how Russia evolves as she progresses from girlhood to “tsar-crossed lover” to old woman.

Expertly researched, The True Memoirs of Little K is based on real events and real people. But it reads like a fairy-tale narrated by a woman who has seen it all: the greatest love, heart-breaking loss, and the crumbling of the Romanov empire she so desperately wanted to belong to.

Initial thoughts 

Determined to a fault, Mathilde Kschessinska jetés her way out of the wings and finds herself smack-dab in the middle of the Romanov stage. As a popular ballerina she steals the hearts of THREE members of the imperial family, including the future Tsar himself, Nicholas II. Her life, written as a dictated memoir, opens with the splendor of imperial life as seen through the eyes of someone close enough to taste it. A famous ballerina. As years pass, she sees Russia go from full of lavish traditions to full of upheaval.

I’ve been going through quite the historical fiction phase as of late, so I’m finding Sharp’s novel fascinating and powerful. The portrayal of Mathilde as a woman whose links to “scandal” will forever overshadow her abilities as a dancer is one too easily recognized in our society. I’m excited to see how her character evolves as the book unfolds and the imperial court deteriorates.

While I do think the style is very effective (and makes me truly believe Kschessinska was speaking!), the book’s lack of dialogue could be annoying for some. This absence doesn’t upset me, but I do sort of miss it as a way to build out details within the narrative. Without it, the narrator relies a lot on introspection and long-winded asides to explain historical detail. However, the latter is where Sharp’s research really shines through!

I feel like I’m learning a HUGE chunk of Russian history, but the medicine is going down with a spoonful of sugar because I also get a ballerina’s love story.

Read this if you’re interested in: Russian history, ballet and the lives of Russian prima ballerinas, the Romanovs

Read this if you loved: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, The Romanovs by Robert K. Massie, Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

mid-week round-up

What are you up to this week? I’m feeling a little under the weather. The freezing temps followed by a few days of weird-ass balmy climate has everyone battling the ookies it seems. Are you in the same boat? BLECH! Here’s to a fast recovery. I’ll be taking it easy over the next few days and hopefully be right as rain by the weekend. I’d love to hit up a few thrift stores, DIY some coconut body scrub (#WinterSelfCare), and attend a film screening at my husband’s university. Sending you healing vibes if you need ’em, and here’s a little reading material if you need an excuse to curl up on the couch with your laptop…

A vegan meatloaf recipe.

The revolution will not be “serifised.” 

The one thing Marie Kondo regrets giving away.

Oregon bottle deposit system hits 90% redemption rate!

Where was Gisele Bundchen at the Super Bowl?

[Related: My favorite Super Bowl moment.]

A photographer’s Trans-Siberian World Cup journey.

[Related: Great YouTube channel for travel inspo!]

Protecting your online privacy is tough–but here’s a start.

I definitely don’t need this, but it’s very cute.

Saudi Arabia runs a sinister database of women.

What we don’t talk about when we talk about serial killers.

[Related: Review of Lost Girls by Robert Kolker.]

How Cherokee teenagers prepare for a financial windfall.

Throughout the week of February 10th – 16th, all orders placed on Blume will receive a mirror decal that reads “Self Care & Self Love First”.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — My Weekly Ritual and The 5 Part Money-Hustle.

mid-week round-up

What are you up to this week? I’m missing Louisiana already (we had an awesome time there last week!) and am still reeling over the book I finished on the plane ride home. Have you read it? Many of you mentioned on this post that you’d like to see me tackle more book posts on Finding Delight and I’m happy to oblige. I have a few reviews in the works and also an idea for an Introvert’s Book Club (would you like to hear more about that??). But while we’re on the subject, I’m happy to announce that the winner of the Spring Fling Giveaway is Katja of Katnapped.com. I’ll be in touch! Thanks to everyone for participating and keep an eye out for more giveaways round these parts. Ok, now that’s squared away, on to the links…

7 actions you can take to prevent gun violence.

Searching for memory of the Gulag’s in Putin’s Russia.

A brief history of presidential sex scandals.

Everyone knows clothes can be powerful communication tools, but can they help change the world?

What do you think of this color for spring?

How to make knotted hair ties. (Super cute & simple DIY!)

Has anyone followed The Artist’s Way program or read the book?

China cracks down on funeral strippers.

Pastel pink, bunny prints, and backpacks – OH MY! #EasterLewks

Faced with complaints of filth and blight, L.A. cracks down on overnight RV parking.

Elizabeth Catte on J.D. Vance, colonial logic, and the end of coal in the region that outsiders love to imagine but can’t seem to understand.

THE NOBLEST ART IS THAT OF MAKING OTHERS HAPPY.”

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — My Three Favorite Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes and Books to Read if You’re in Search of a History Lesson.