‘Empress Orchid’ by Anchee Min – Review

“Orchid kowtowed to the Grand Empress and the emperor. She knew she was not allowed to make eye contact, but she couldn’t help herself.”

I like to read. Books fascinate me. I don’t know whether it’s because I have such a great imagination or whether I can relate to the descriptions of certain things throughout the novel.

Empress Orchid was a great read. Anchee Min described the indescribable.

Brief outline
Orchid is a 16 year old girl. Her father had just died, and she, her brother, sister and mother are on their way with the coffin to the grand city to give her father the burial he deserves. Something happens along the way which makes Orchid think that her life could be more than that of a “taipeng” (commoner).

Whilst staying with her uncle, she sees a poster announcing that the Emperor, Hsieng-feng, is now ready to select his wives and concubines. Orchid goes along to the selection.

Life is not good for Orchid when she enters the Forbidden City. She is not of royal blood, and the other women and girls know it.

Ok, so what would you expect to happen if there were over 5000 women fighting each other for the Emperors attention? Slanging matches? Fisty-cuffs? Yes, you would expect that, but that never happens. Orchid and the other Empresses try to ruin each other’s lives using dark and sly techniques. Some are successful, with some girls being honoured with the “white sash”, meaning they have to hang themselves. Others, meanwhile, are planning and plotting to be in total control.

Things get even worse when the Emperor dies.

Orchid is a fighter, and she never gives up. She is walked all over, and disrespected, but she always holds her head up high…

A partially-erotic, bitchiness, political love story that will make you wanting more. The book is fiction, but many facts are included.

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