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The Last Empress


The setting is China's Forbidden City in the last days of its imperial glory, a vast complex of palaces and gardens run by thousands of eunuchs and ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of The Last Empress

Overall customer rating: 4.000

Critics get it all wrong while being correct

by Skip on Apr 3, 2007

Most American readers and movie goers like happy endings, which usually translates into fantasy and we all know what a fantasy is: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. You won?t find a happy ending in Anchee Min?s The Last Empress, but you will find a closer version to the truth. I recently read in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Rocky Mountain News and the Los Angeles Times that The Last Empress isn't as powerful as The Empress Orchid, which is the first edition in this two book series. The critics writing for those three newspapers are correct. The reason for that is because The Last Empress is a completely different story (something that those critics seem to have missed)?one that chronicles the life of a mother/empress who struggles to assure that her son and then her nephew will be strong enough to save China and quite a struggle it is. In The Empress Orchid we have a young person coming of age, and the struggles of surviving when a main character is young usually makes for a faster paced story then a middle age character or older. The Last Empress is the sequel to the highly successful Empress Orchid. It is true that Communist Chinese school books paint Tzu Hsi as a monster and demon, which goes along with the stories of Edmund Backhouse, the London Times correspondent to China during the final days of the Ching Dynasty?never mind that scholar and historian Sterling Seagrave revealed in his book, Dragon Lady, that Backhouse was a liar. Backhouse painted the Empress as a sexual deviant hungry for power and that seems to be what the critics writing in San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Midwest want from Anchee Min?s The Last Empress. Fortunately for us, Anchee Min gives us an Empress closer to the truth. I, for one, would rather read about the real world than a myth perpetuated by liars. When I want a fantasy, I?ll go to the movies. The Last Empress paints a picture of China as it really was at that time. For readers who prefer reality to fantasy, I recommend this book. The Empress Orchid is a story about an adolescent growing into maturity. In The Last Empress we see the mature person at work.

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