I first passed up this gem because I had no interest in dance much less the world of ballet. What a mistake that was. Li Cunxin takes you into the fascinating lives of peasants in rural socialist China under Mao and his struggles to find his way in a dangerous and changing world. His story is unique, totally engaging and extraordinary. This autobiography is far from simple rags-to-riches success story. His style is down-to-earth and crafted with artistry. The book is beautifully narrated and I remained totally engaged from beginning to end.
The writers managed very successfully to stitch together an account of Michael and Natasha’s lives from letters and other sources in a manner that breathed life into what could have been very dry material, yet they did so without getting carried away or drifting too far from facts. For me, the background of this love story, the fall of the Romanoffs and Tsarist Russia was more interesting than their relationship – but that is why I read the book in the first place. Never straying far from the known facts, there is a tendency to include far too many love letters, word for soppy word, which is my only criticism. It is beautifully read.
I enjoyed every minute of this fascinating adventure. His attitude toward the Inuit is less than enlightened (which is not a surprise considering when it was written), but his descriptions of the people and their culture are unsurpassed and never dull or boring. You will want to drag out your map and track his adventure like I did.
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