BookBrowse Reviews The Last Empress by Anchee Min

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The Last Empress

by Anchee Min

The Last Empress
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 320 pages
    Apr 2008, 336 pages

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A powerful revisionist portrait of one of the most important figures in Chinese history

In Empress Orchid, the first of Anchee Min's two novels about Empress Tzu Hsi the reader meets the young girl, later to be known as Orchid, and her impoverished mother, on their way to Beijing to bury Orchid's recently deceased father. Once in Beijing, Orchid learns that the young Emperor Hsien Feng is looking for brides who, to preserve the purity of the Imperial line, must be Manchurian, which she is. She is chosen and exchanges a life of poverty for the restricted life of a third-grade concubine in the Forbidden City.

Through wily maneuvering she seduces the Emperor and bares him his first son, who is five years old when declared Emperor on the death of his father. To ensure that both she and her son stay alive, Orchid, who ...

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