Synopses & Reviews
To rescue her family from poverty and avoid marrying her slope-shouldered cousin, seventeen-year-old Orchid competes to be one of the Emperors wives. When she is chosen as a lower-ranking concubine she enters the erotically charged and ritualised Forbidden City. But beneath its immaculate façade lie whispers of murders and ghosts, and the thousands of concubines will go to any lengths to bear the Emperors 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.
"A wild, passionate, fearless American writer" New York Times
"Written by a woman, narrated by Cixi herself, the novel turns the last empress into a dignified, discreet sovereign, holding her country together in the face of foreign invasion, dissolute emperors and scheming courtiers
the novel turns the last empress into a dignified, discreet sovereign, holding her country together in the face of foreign invasion, dissolute emperors and scheming courtiers ... Empress Orchid is strong on both sexual chicanery and violent conspiracy
a fascinating account" Julia Lovell, Guardian
"Min evokes a doomed realm so opulent, complex, and bizarre that it seems as fantastic as an alternative world in science fiction, but Orchid is 100 percent human, and her earthy story is true and significant....[A] bewitching novel." Booklist
About the Author
Anchee Min, who was born in Shanghai in 1957, has a personal connection to the story of Madame Mao. At seventeen, she was sent to a labor collective, where after a number of years a talent scout recruited her for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio. There she was trained to play the protagonists in Madame Mao's propaganda films and personally met Jiang Ching and others in her circle, who later provided Min with stories and insights. Min came to the United States in 1984 with the help of the actress Joan Chen. Her memoir, Red Azalea, was named a New York Times Notable Book of 1994 and was an international bestseller, with rights sold in twenty countries. Her first novel, Katharine, was published in 1997. She resides in New York.