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.
New in Very Good jacket. 0618068872 A magnificent book with themes involving; love, war, conquest, domination, feminism, communism and power set in China during the Ch'ing Dynasty. The as new hardback has 336 pages with no markings inside. The book has a very nice dust jacket.
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.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-01-19 Talk about story arc: poor girl from rural China auditions for a job as royal concubine, winds up as emperor's wife number four, gives birth to the "last Emperor," rules China as regent for 46 years. The fascinating, implausible life of Tsu Hsi, or "Orchid," was reviled by the revolutionary Chinese, but here it receives a sympathetic treatment from Min (Red Azalea; Becoming Madame Mao), who once again brilliantly lifts the public mask of a celebrated woman to reveal a contradictory character. Sexually assertive, intellectually ambitious, socially striving, Min's Orchid is also "isolated, tense, and in some vague but very real way, dissatisfied." Even after giving birth to the emperor's only son, Orchid feels trapped by the stultifying imperial rituals and persecuted by the other residents of the Forbidden City: six other royal wives, 3,000 invisible concubines and 2,000 scheming eunuchs. In addition to these powerful distractions, she has to discipline her overindulged son, outmaneuver the ruthless politician Su Shun (who wants her buried alive when the emperor dies) and advise the ailing emperor how to fend off both the Boxers and the Western "barbarians." Min, herself a survivor of China's Cultural Revolution, has done a prodigious amount of on-site research to capture the glorious, hopeless last days of the Ching dynasty. At times her writing is textbook-flat, and she sometimes loses track of her teeming cast of characters (for example, Orchid's dangerous mother-in-law and mentally ill sister). But readers will be enthralled by the gorgeously woven cultural tapestry and the psychologically astute portrait of the empress a talented girl from the provinces who married (way) up. (Feb. 3) Forecast: Empress Orchid does for 19th-century China what Becoming Madame Mao did for the People's Republic and stands a good chance of matching the latter's success. If it does, readers will clamor for Min's promised sequel (the novel ends when Orchid comes to power) and the film prospects (rights have been optioned by Oliver Stone imagine Bertolucci's The Last Emperor with a conspiracy twist) will look even better. Fourteen-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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