It is the final days of the Chinese empire. Trade in opium with Europe is slowly corroding the power of the Ch'ing Dynasty. Orchid, a beautiful seventeen-year-old from an aristocratic but impoverished family, is pushed into the maelstrom when she finds herself unexpectedly chosen to become a lower-ranking concubine of the Emperor. The world inside ...
It is the final days of the Chinese empire. Trade in opium with Europe is slowly corroding the power of the Ch'ing Dynasty. Orchid, a beautiful seventeen-year-old from an aristocratic but impoverished family, is pushed into the maelstrom when she finds herself unexpectedly chosen to become a lower-ranking concubine of the Emperor. The world inside the Forbidden City is erotically charged and highly ritualised, but beneath its immaculate face lie whispers of murders and ghosts. The thousands of concubines will go to any lengths to bear the Emperor a son and become his Empress. Determined not to be a victim of the jealousies and foul play, Orchid trains herself in the art of pleasuring a man, bribes her way into the royal bed and seduces the monarch. Little does she know that China will collapse around her, and she will be its last Empress. EMPRESS ORCHID is the story of this fascinating, strong-willed woman who for generations has been vilified as a grand seductress and murderess. Anchee Min draws a vivid portrait of a flawed yet utterly compelling woman and, through her life, the world of the Chinese court and the sexual and political lives of the royal concubines. Richly detailed and completely gripping, this is a novel of high drama and lyricism from the acclaimed author of Becoming Madame Mao and Red Azalea.
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I have long been fascinated by Chinese culture and history, have studied the Chinese Revolution and have read countless memoirs, fictional novels and historical accounts on the 'Sleeping Giant' that is China... Empress Orchid would definately have to be the most intriguing and mesmorising text I have EVER read!! Once I began reading it, I simly could not put it down.. It presents an alternative view of the woman who would become the Dowager Empress, contrary to the widely publicised impressions of her character; that she was in love with the concept of power, selfish, lacked compassion and above all, brought her empire to ruin.. Empress Orchid presents a tale that can be idolised as the 'real woman behind the rumours and scandal'... it is a tale that enables even the most conscientious historian to feel sympathy and compassion towards a woman, who from day one faced ridicule and jealousy, but who would do anything to protect her child... and who is wronged and conspired against by those around her.. Empress Orchid will bring you to tears, the sequel, The Last Empress is equally powerful, yet perhaps not so gripping... I strongly recommend Empress Orchid to anyone who loves to lose themself in a book, to those who are familiar with Chinese history and it's leaders... I warn you.. Your opinions of the Dowager Empress will change forever..
Jan 29, 2008
This was a great book full of drama and written full of detail. A great recommendation for all historical fiction readers. It starts off with a young girl of Manchurian descent given the opporutunity to become the emperor of China's concubine. The story continues on with her descent into the world of corruption and sex. Anchee Min brings you into the world of one of the later Chinese Dynasties.
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