Empress Orchid: A Novel, Book 1

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“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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About the author

Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At seventeen she was sent to a labor collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao’s Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a movie actress. She came to the United States in 1984 with the help of actress Joan Chen. Her memoir, Red Azalea, was named one of the New York Times Notable Books of 1994 and was an international bestseller, with rights sold in twenty countries. Her novels Becoming Madame Mao and Empress Orchid were published to critical acclaim and were national bestsellers. Her two other novels, Katherine and Wild Ginger, were published to wonderful reviews and impressive foreign sales.
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3.8
5 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Apr 11, 2005
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Pages
364
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ISBN
9780547347202
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Historical / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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“Admirers of Empress Orchid will be interested in this sequel. Others may find the introduction to relatively modern Chinese history a revelation” (Rocky Mountain News).
 
During the tumultuous end of the nineteenth century in China, the only constant was the power wielded by one person: the resilient, ever-resourceful Tzu Hsi, Lady Yehonala—or Empress Orchid—as readers came to know her in Anchee Min’s critically acclaimed novel covering the first part of her life.
 
In The Last Empress, Orchid moves from the intimacy of the concubine quarters into the spotlight of the world stage. Devastating personal losses take their toll, leaving her yearning to step aside, but only she—allied with the progressives, but loyal to the conservative Manchu clan of her dynasty—can hold the nation’s rival factions together.
 
Anchee Min offers a powerful revisionist portrait based on extensive research of one of the most important figures in Chinese history. Viciously maligned by the western press of the time as the “Dragon Lady,” a manipulative, blood-thirsty woman who held onto power at all costs, the woman Min gives us is a compelling, very human leader who assumed power reluctantly, and who sacrificed all she had to protect those she loved and an empire that was doomed to die.
 
“The vision of an empress who very nearly had it all: vulnerability and strength, motherhood and power, earthiness and dignity, compassion and ambition.” —The Washington Post
 
“Invokes the intrigue and opulence of nineteenth-century China while telling the story of its improbably dominant ruler.” —Los Angeles Times
From the national bestselling author of Red Azalea. “Extraordinary . . . Min lets [Madame Mao] be seen as never before. Bottom line: riveting” (People).
 
In a sweeping, erotically charged story, Anchee Min creates a finely nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating, and vilified, women of the twentieth century.
 
Madame Mao is almost universally known as the “white-boned demon”—ambitious, vindictive, and cruel—whose bid to succeed her husband led to the death of millions. But Min’s story begins with a young girl named Yunhe, the unwanted daughter of a concubine who ignored her mother’s pleas and refused to have her feet bound. It was the first act of rebellion for this headstrong, beautiful, and charismatic girl, who would find fame as an actress in Shanghai, and later fall in love and marry Mao Zedong. The great revolutionary leader proved to be an inattentive husband with a voracious appetite for infidelity, but the couple stayed together through the Communist victory, the disastrous Great Leap Forward, and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.
 
Min uses the facts of history and her lush, penetrating psychological imagination to take us beyond the myth of the person who so greatly influenced an entire generation of Chinese. The result is a complex portrait of a woman who railed against the confines of her culture, whose deep-seated insecurities propelled her to reinvent herself constantly, and whose ambition was matched only by her ferocious, never-to-be-fulfilled need to be loved.
 
“Sheer poetry.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“A magnificent book: consequential, significant, beautiful . . . the true heroine is writer Anchee Min.” —San Diego Union-Tribune
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