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La Ballerina Dello Zar (2010)

La ballerina dello zar (2010)

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3.46 of 5 Votes: 4
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8854504483 (ISBN13: 9788854504486)
Neri Pozza

About book La Ballerina Dello Zar (2010)

This book helped me learn about the empiric reign of the Romanov family before the Soviet government overthrew them and seized Russia. For that insight, I was interested. Overall, I would call the whole book "interesting," but not "enthralling" or "mesmerizing." It had an attention-grabber main character, a prima ballerina with her life wrapped up in drama. She did what many famous women do today, and elicited her way to the top with her body. But her life seems so shallow and immature, and her plight so ridiculous. But she always gets her way. I thought she was like a Russian Scarlet O'Hara. So if you want to learn more about the Romanov Russia, in all its opulence and grandeur, with a sensationalized ballerina, this book is for you. For me, meh. Whenever I read reviews here or on Amazon, I'm disappointed when people complain that characters aren't "relatable" or they didn't like the book because they couldn't sympathize with the protagonist. That has never stopped me from reading or liking a book because even when something is outside my experience, or the characters are the opposite of who I am, being there can be fascinating. Such is the case with Mathilde Kschessinska who, at the beginning of the story, is one hundred years old and writing her memoirs in Paris.For the balletomane, the first part of the story is an amazing description of ballet training and performance in nineteenth-century Russia. Sharp really hammers home the idea that the dancers were first and foremost servants of the Tsar, as performers, and as sexual playthings for the nobility. Kschessinska is ambitious, both as a ballerina and a concubine for the tsarevich Nicholas Romanov. She is petty, greedy, superficial, but actually in love with "Niki," so much so that after his coronation, when their relationship is officially ended (with contracts and settlements) she publicly pits herself against the new Empress Alexandra while taking solace with the Tsar's two cousins as protectors and spies into the Emperor's private life.As Alexandra repeatedly fails to produce and heir, Nicholas III re-enters Kschessinka's life and she bares him a son. From this point, her goal is to get him (and hopefully herself) into the royal household. Unfortunately the empress gave birth to a son, who inherited the hemophilia in Queen Victoria's bloodline. Since the boy could die at any time from even a minor accident, Kschessinka's son becomes a safety-net for the Romanov line, giving Nicholas "an heir and a spare," taking him away from his mother and making him part of the imperial entourage, and sucked in to the family seclusion as Alexandra comes under the spell of Rasputin.All this takes place against the violence and revolution before and during World War I and Nicholas III's inability to deal with it. Kschessinka remains in St. Petersburg through most of the turmoil and describes the violence in the streets, fleeing her palace as it is claimed and sacked by the Bolsheviks with her son imprisoned by the revolutionary government. But she describes it with no emotion, as if she is simply a witness to events that barely touch her. At least until she hears that the royal family is going to be moved closer to Siberia and guesses that the family is going to be executed. She finds a way to get to the family as they are going to the train, where Nicholas gives her son back to her. They then flee with thousands of émigrés to western Europe, after learning that the royal family has been executed and visiting the site and finding that almost all her protectors are dead.The memoir ends with Kschessinka and her son in Paris, where she ran a ballet school and he took odd jobs to keep them afloat. Sadly, after all her dreams of being mother to a future Tsar, her son never became anything and spent his entire life taking care of her. She even muses that if she hadn't taken him away from the Tsar's family, his name would have been in the history books. Her ambition for a moment preferring a dead famous son to a living nobody.Kschessinka isn't exactly a sympathetic character overall. Her life of sumptuous opulence before the revolution and her notoriety as a concubine with too much political power thinking only of herself (she was given ample coal during a severe shortage where many froze to death,) makes her difficult to relate to. That doesn't keep this book from being worth reading, quite the contrary. Books that take us out of our experiences and into the minds of characters allow our understanding of others to open and grow. A lot of interesting people are unsympathetic or come from worlds very different from our own.

Do You like book La Ballerina Dello Zar (2010)?

Interesting take on what it meant to be young, beautiful, and priviledged in tzarist Russia.

Good book about the Csar's of Russia and the people who serve them. It's very interesting.

Wanted to like it, but could not get into the book. Did not finish.

Good twist on historical fiction.

Dead sexy read. Loved it!

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