Empress Orchid

Empress Orchid

Book rating: 03 Paperback

By (author) Anchee Min

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 28mm | 259g
  • Publication date: 3 January 2005
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0747568332
  • ISBN 13: 9780747568339
  • Sales rank: 70,513

Product description

To rescue her family from poverty and avoid marrying her slope-shouldered cousin, seventeen-year-old Orchid competes to be one of the Emperor's wives. When she is chosen as a lower-ranking concubine she enters the erotically charged and ritualised Forbidden City. But beneath its immaculate facade lie whispers of murders and ghosts, and the thousands of concubines will stoop to any lengths to bear the Emperor's son. Orchid trains herself in the art of pleasuring a man, bribes her way into the royal bed, and seduces the monarch, drawing the attention of dangerous foes. Little does she know that China will collapse around her, and that she will be its last Empress.

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Author information

Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At seventeen she was sent to a labour collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a movie actress. She moved to the United States in 1984. Her memoir, Red Azalea, was an international bestseller with rights sold in twenty countries. Her novels, Becoming Madame Mao, Katherine and Wild Ginger were published to wonderful reviews and impressive foreign sales.

Customer reviews

By a Book Depository customer 10 Dec 2008 3

"I loved this book for the simple fact that I was completely engrossed with this character and the time period itself, accurate or not. It was entertaining in a similar, albeit insubordinate way to Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha and I suppose that is primarily what I personally look for first and foremost in a book. The experience. I love to laugh, cry and even get angry at characters like Orchid and was pleasantly surprised in this department. I'll admit Min is certainly no genius in the eyes of the west but you must admit their is something to be said about the distinctive styles in which differant cultures themselves explore their writing. No, she does not adhere to the more formal styles of characterisation and no she is certainly no Dickens but read in between the lines of any writers work and their is more to be learned from that than a lifetime of classical study and farcical criticism. Just an observation. For an equally off-beat yet fascinating writer in different genres I would recommend either Natsuo Kirino the Japanese writer or Wei Hui. However if you love the as one person points out the idea of this story and not neccessarily the style you would be pleasanty surprised by a book called 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan' another eastern cinderella story by Lisa See. For entertainment value and curiosity absolutely marvellous. For those of a more classically critical nature, do not dismiss this writer simply because of her style and difference. Analyse it from every angle and whether you love or hate it, you are bound to finf some entertainment in making up your mind. "

Review quote

'Empress Orchid is strong on both sexual chicanery and violent conspiracy ... a fascinating account' Guardian 'A wild, passionate, fearless American writer' New York Times 'An engrossing story ... enhanced by Min's imaginative power ... Like all good novelists, she implies as much as she says, and her characterisation is subtle and worldly-wise' Glasgow Herald 'Rich in detail and historical background, the novel drenches readers in the colours, textures and affluence of the Forbidden City ... a stirring, exotic novel that is a treat for the senses and the intellect alike' Los Angeles Times