Monday, November 24, 2008
88. "Empress Orchid" - Anchee Min
Reading this book was a delightful accident. I thought I had requested a book about Tsu Hsi, the Empress Dowager of China who was feared as one of the cruelest rulers in history. Oh, wait. This is about Tsu Hsi's rise to power? Where's the blood, the gore, the examples of just plain awfulness?
Not in this book.
Still, it's a quick read, skipping light as a breeze over all that boring history stuff and focusing on the manipulation of other wives/concubines of the emperor (Hsien Feng). Her servants did the killing and hurting, not Orchid/Tsu Hsi. She was too busy learning how to pleasure the emperor and save the kingdom.
So the writing is sympathetic to Tsu Hsi; it's still an interesting look at Chinese history (yes, I was being snide - I like the history "stuff"). However, after being told that she was one of the most horrible female leaders in world history, I'd like a real view of this woman. Any suggestions?
2.75 out of 5.0 Green Tea Vodkas.