- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
More copies of this ISBN
The Last Empressby Anchee Min
Synopses & Reviews
The last decades of the nineteenth century were a violent period in China's history marked by humiliating foreign incursions and domestic rebellion, ultimately ending in the demise of the Ch'ing dynasty. The only constant during this tumultuous time was the power wielded by one person: the resilient, ever-resourceful Tzu Hsi, or Empress Orchid, as readers came to know her in Anchee Min's critically acclaimed novel covering the first part of this complex woman's life.
The Last Empress is the story of Orchid's dramatic transition from a strong-willed, instinctive young woman to a wise and politically savvy leader. Moving from the intimacy of the concubine quarters into the spotlight of the world stage, Orchid must not only face the perilous condition of her empire but also a series of devastating personal losses, as first her son and then her adopted son succumb to early death. Yearning only to step aside, and yet growing constantly into her role, 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.
"Min's Empress Orchid tracked the concubine Orchid's path to becoming Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi; this revisionist look at her long years behind her son Tung Chih's throne (1863 — 1908) won't disappoint Orchid's fans. Recounted through Tzu Hsi's first-person, the early chapters encompass her trials as a young 'widow,' as co-regent with the late emperor's wife and as a mother. An engaging domestic drama gives way to pedestrian political history; Tzu Hsi lectures like a popular historian on palace intrigue, military coups, the Boxer Rebellion and conflicts with Russia, France and Japan. Though tears flow, there is little passion (save Tzu Hsi's erotic but chaste longing for Yung Lu, commander of the emperor's troops). Min's empress adopts a notably modern psychologizing tone ('How much was Guang-hsu affected when he was wrenched from the family nest?'), earthy language ('You are the most wretched fucking demon I know!') and notes of historical prescience (including what 'future critics' will say). Min attacks the popular conception of Tzu Hsi as a corrupt, ruthless, power-hungry assassin, but the results read less like a novel than a didactic memoir." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Based on her thorough knowledge of China's past...Anchee Min spins a tale of royalty run amuck....[A] sympathetic look at a woman who was reviled in the Western press of her era, and in scholarly research after that." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Min distills and transcends a vast amount of long hidden, highly significant historical fact to create a brilliantly imagined and pellucid novel possessing all the drama and angst of a Greek tragedy in its portrayal of an unjustly maligned, truly extraordinary woman leader." Booklist
"Min consistently blends meticulous historical research with firsthand knowledge of Chinese culture and the female perspective to bring to readers a unique look at women in Chinese history." Library Journal
"The great swatches of historical detail will enlighten readers who generally view history from a Western perspective." Kirkus Reviews
"The Last Empress progressively loses coherence as Orchid rises in authority....Her personality is not particularly engaging, and secondary characters...are (contrary to all historical evidence) disappointingly dull." Los Angeles Times
"Admirers of The Empress Orchid will be interested in this sequel. Others may find the introduction to relatively modern Chinese history a revelation." Rocky Mountain News
In this sequel to Empress Orchid Anchee Min offers a powerful revisionist portrait based on extensive research of one of the most important figures in Chinese history. The Last Empress is the story of Orchid's dramatic transition from a strong-willed, instinctive young woman to a wise and politically savvy leader.
The last decades of the nineteenth century were a violent period in Chinas history, marked by humiliating foreign incursions and domestic rebellions and ending in the demise of the Ching Dynasty. The only constant during this tumultuous time was the power wielded by one woman, the resilient, ever-resourceful Tsu Hsi — or Empress Orchid, as readers came to know her in Anchee Mins critically acclaimed, best-selling novel covering her rise to power.
The Last Empress is the story of Orchids dramatic transition from a strong-willed, instinctive young woman to a wise and politically savvy leader who ruled China for more than four decades. In this concluding volume Min gives us a compelling, very human leader who assumed power reluctantly and sacrificed all to protect those she loved and an empire that was doomed to die.
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.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:
Other books you might like