Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
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.
This is a historical fiction book set in China in the 1800s.
Like I said, I loved this book. Min’s writing style was descriptive but flowed beautifully. At no point did I find myself bored. I loved the characters. I admired Orchid’s determination and the way she stood up for herself, even though that went against all tradition. This book had love, death, tradition, passion and history running all the way through it. It had quite a sad ending but it was realistic. I loved her companions and the way they dedicated themselves to her and were loyal. Even now I am reflecting on the story, thinking about the difference she made, even when her life was at stake. What an amazing woman in my opinion. She is certainly one of my favourite characters from a book.
I have no idea if the history of this book is correct, but the way it was written was so gripping that I am now planning on going and researching this time of Chinese history.
I can’t recommend this book enough. I can’t think of anything bad to say about it. I didn’t take me long to read at all because I enjoyed every word of it.