Review: Empress Orchid

My neighborhood book club’s April pick is Empress Orchid by Anchee Min. What an interesting read! I had never heard the story of China’s last empress, Tzu Hsi (known as “Orchid” to her family). This book traces her life from the death of father while she is a teenager, to her being selected as a wife for the young Emperor, to her bearing him a son and heir, to her helping her very young son to rule China in the days near the turn of the 20th century.

I found this book interesting and engaging. Life in the Imperial court is vividly described, and Min’s style is such that I could picture it down to the last detail. Orchid is a complex character: intelligent and sensual, and at times ruthless and conniving. While this is, of course, historical fiction, I couldn’t help but think that Min had captured Orchid’s character, as she seemed so human. She is definitely a strong, female protagonist.

Min has published a sequel to this book, covering Empress Tzu Hsi’s 46 years in power. I think that I will read it! I got this copy from the library.

I give this book 4 Stars!

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