From 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
In this "absorbing companion piece to her novel Becoming Madame Mao" (New York Times), 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.
My imperial life began with a smell. A rotten smell that came from my
father's coffinhe had been dead for two months and we were still carrying
him, trying to reach Peking, his birthplace, for burial. My mother was
frustrated. "My husband was the governor of Wuhu," she said to the footmen
whom we had hired to bear the coffin. "Yes, madam," the head footman
answered humbly, "and we sincerely wish the governor a good journey home."
In my memory, my father was not a happy man. He had been repeatedly demoted because of his poor performance in the suppression of the Taiping peasant uprisings. Not until later did I learn that my father was not totally to blame. For years China had been dogged by famine and foreign aggression. Anyone who tried on my father's shoes would understand that carrying out the Emperor's order to restore peace in the countryside was impossiblepeasants saw their lives as no better than death.
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