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Empress Orchid: A Novel

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Description
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 encircled by a wall in the center of Peking. In this highly ordered place -- tradition-bound, ruled by strict etiquette, rife with political and erotic tension -- the Emperor, "the Son of Heaven," performs two duties: he must rule the court and conceive an heir. To achieve the latter, tradition provides a stupendous hierarchy of hundreds of wives and concubines. It is as a minor concubine that the beautiful Tzu Hsi, known as Orchid as a girl, enters the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen. It is not a good time to enter the city. The Ch'ing Dynasty in 1852 has lost its vitality, and the court has become an insular, xenophobic place. A few short decades earlier, China lost the Opium Wars, and it has done little since to strengthen its defenses or improve diplomatic ties. Instead, the inner circle has turned further inward, naively confident that its troubles are past and the glory of China will keep the "barbarians" -- the outsiders -- at bay. Within the walls of the Forbidden City the consequences of a misstep are deadly. As one of hundreds of women vying for the attention of the Emperor, Orchid soon discovers that she must take matters into her own hands. After training herself in the art of pleasing a man, she bribes her way into the royal bedchamber and seduces the monarch. A grand love affair ensues; the Emperor is a troubled man, but their love is passionate and genuine. Orchid has the great good fortune to bear him a son. Elevated to the rank of Empress, she still must struggle to maintain her position and the right to raise her own child. With the death of the Emperor comes a palace coup that ultimately thrusts Orchid into power, although only as regent until her son's maturity. Now she must rule China as its walls tumble around her, and she alone seems capable of holding the country together. This is an epic story firmly in the mold of Anchee Min's Becoming Madame Mao. Like that best-selling historical novel, the heroine of Empress Orchid comes down to us with a diabolical reputation -- a woman who seized power through sexual seduction, murder, and endless intrigue. But reality tells a different story. Based on copious research, this is a vivid portrait of a flawed yet utterly compelling woman who survived in a male world, a woman whose main struggle was not to hold on topower but to her own humanity. Richly detailed and completely gripping, Empress Orchid is a novel of high drama and lyricism and the first volume of a trilogy about the life of one of the most important women in history.
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ISBN:
9780618562039
9780618068876
9780547347202
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 665a2562-0aa0-ffdf-3ff2-bf090895ddd3
Grouping Title empress orchid
Grouping Author min anchee
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-12-14 23:00:10PM
Last Indexed 2019-12-14 23:54:55PM

Solr Details

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author Anchee Min
author_display Min, Anchee
available_at_catalog Edmondson Pike
Edmondson Pike Kids
collection_catalog Fiction
detailed_location_catalog Edmondson Pike - Adult Fiction
Main Library - Adult Fiction
display_description

"A fascinating novel, similar to Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha . . . A revisionist portrait of a beautiful and strong-willed woman" (Houston Chronicle).

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

From Anchee Min, a master of the historical novel, Empress Orchid sweeps readers into the heart of the Forbidden City to tell the fascinating story of a young concubine who becomes China's last empress. Min introduces the beautiful Tzu Hsi, known as Orchid, and weaves an epic of a country girl who seized power through seduction, murder, and endless intrigue. When China is threatened by enemies, she alone seems capable of holding the country together.

In this "absorbing companion piece to her novel Becoming Madame Mao", readers and reading groups will once again be transported by Min's lavish evocation of the Forbidden City in its last days of imperial glory and by her brilliant portrait of a flawed yet utterly compelling woman who survived, and ultimately dominated, a male world (The New York Times).

"Superb . . . [an] unforgettable heroine." —People

"A sexually charged, eye-opening portrayal of the Chinese empire . . . with heart-wrenching scenes of desperate failure and a sensuality that rises off its heated pages." —Elle

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primary_isbn 9780618562039
publishDate 2004
2005
record_details
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
ils:CARL0000216137 Book Books English Hougton Mifflin, 2004. xiii, 336 p. ; 24 cm.
overdrive:26be853d-2bb3-4ada-aa70-a7906eab40c7 eBook eBook English Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2005
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subject_facet Biographical fiction, Chinese
China -- History -- Guangxu, 1875-1908 -- Fiction
Cixi, -- Empress dowager of China, -- 1835-1908 -- Fiction
Empresses -- Fiction
Historical fiction, Chinese
title_display Empress Orchid
title_full Empress Orchid / Anchee Min
Empress Orchid A Novel
title_short Empress Orchid
title_sub A Novel
topic_facet Biographical fiction, Chinese
Cixi
Empresses
Fiction
Historical Fiction
Historical fiction, Chinese
History
Literature