Reading Russian

February 19, 2012

Geographical trends seem to occur in books, don’t you find? For a while, there was a rash of “India” writing (A Suitable Boy,  A Fine Balance …) and then stories set in China or Hong Kong (Snowflower and the Secret Fan,  The Piano Teacher …) My former book club read a number of stories set in Africa until consensus had us move on – to the UK. Well, I’ve noted a recent trend to reading Russian. I read the classic Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago years ago but recently finished The True Memoirs of Little K and A Mountain of Crumbs – I enjoyed them all. Such an intriguing history and fascinating characters making their way through it. In only the past few months/weeks The Winter Palace, Catherine the Great, Enchantments, and The Little Russian have all been released. Each one looks appealing to me so it appears another literary trip to Russia could be in the works! (As usual, click on the image to be taken to a website with more information about the book.) Where have your books been taking you?

Ballerinas Everywhere

November 20, 2010


I’m not sure if it’s because The Nutcracker season is upon us but I am conscious of a ballerina trend in the air. A new movie called Black Swan is coming to theatres, our local Ballet is undergoing a sea change (what? no tutus!) and then there’s the bookshelf … An intriguing new hardcover fiction release is pleading to be added to the stack on the bedside table. And in the children’s section, with an apparent nod to the Madeleine books, a new storybook has arrived which promises to be a delight. Finally, carrying forward with our last posting’s theme,  a fond but almost forgotten classic from youth …

The True Memoirs of Little K  written by Adrienne Sharp follows the story of a century old ballerina reflecting on her life story.  Exiled in Paris, tiny, one-hundred-year-old Mathilde Kschessinska sits down to write her memoirs before all that she believes to be true is forgotten. A lifetime ago, she was the vain, ambitious, impossibly charming prima ballerina assoluta of the tsar’s Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. Now, as she looks back on her tumultuous life, she can still recall every slight she ever suffered, every conquest she ever made. Through Kschessinska’s memories of her own triumphs and defeats, we witness the stories that changed history: the seething beginnings of revolution, the blindness of the doomed court, 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 historical fiction as it’s meant to be written: passionately eventful, crammed with authentic detail, and alive with emotions that resonate still.”  (From Product Description)

And then there is Miss. Lina’s Ballerinas written by Grace Maccarone and illustrated by Christine Davenier. Enjoy a glimpse here:

Remember Noel Streatfeild’s classic published in 1936: Ballet Shoes? Three young orphans are adopted and then through circumstances and serendipity follow dreams in diverse directions. One young girl is a gifted dancer and dreams of being a prima ballerina. Noel Streatfeild wrote a number of stories following the Shoe theme:  Dancing Shoes, Skating Shoes, Tennis Shoes, Movie Shoes, Party Shoes and Circus Shoes among them.

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