Customer Reviews


99 Reviews
5 star:
 (49)
4 star:
 (29)
3 star:
 (11)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely enjoyable read but slightly disappointing ending.
I picked this book up at the airport and read the back while waiting for my husband to buy some magazines. I hadnt even finished the back cover and knew i had to have it.
The storyline centres around Orchid, a young Chinese girl in the 1800's who is chosen as one of the Emperor's Concubines and becomes one of the most powerful women in Chinese history. It follows...
Published on 28 Jun 2005 by J F Atkin

versus
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful in parts, lacking in others
I was drawn to this book as I have read a few others which are similar. I came to the book having quite high hopes for it, and I have to say, I was disappointed. For me the beginning was far too drawn out. While I understand that Min wanted to convey the longing and the loneliness of Orchid as she waited to be summoned by the Emporor, for me it just went on for too long...
Published on 12 Feb 2006 by Brida


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely enjoyable read but slightly disappointing ending., 28 Jun 2005
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
I picked this book up at the airport and read the back while waiting for my husband to buy some magazines. I hadnt even finished the back cover and knew i had to have it.
The storyline centres around Orchid, a young Chinese girl in the 1800's who is chosen as one of the Emperor's Concubines and becomes one of the most powerful women in Chinese history. It follows her life from enterting into her marriage and gives you a real insight into the Forbidden City and life as a concubine.
This is an extremely enjoyable read which is written in an easy to follow style. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author has written it, her style is fresh and keeps your attention constantly.
The character of Orchid and that of her head Eunuch are both interesting and very likeable characters. The voice of Orchid is truthful and entertaining with a hint of every emotion possible. There are tearful moments and laugh out loud snippets.
I would recommend this book happily, and would have given it 5 stars but for the fact i felt the ending was a little frustrating. The author finished on what she believes to be a high note and a good ending, but part of her writing style is to tell you parts of the future throughout the book in a casual manner (for example from the beginning Orchid tells us about being the most powerful woman in China by becoming the Empress, you dont have to read past the first chapter to see she will survive through all death threats etc in the book). However at the end i felt that a few of these casually mentioned parts of the story were not finished off and i found that frustrating. I really needed to know more! Its almost like there was going to be a second part, you were left really wanting more.
I am a big fan of Memoirs of a Geisha and Geisha of Gion, and although a totally different subject manner, i found this book equally fascinating.
Happy reading!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings the Forbidden City to life, 20 April 2008
By 
Stella (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
I loved it. The story of a girl overcoming hardships, set in the Forbidden City. She goes from nothing to becoming one of the most formidable women in China at the time. It's a work of fiction but is based on a real character, the Empress Dowager. This book only takes us through her early life though, before she becomes the Dowager empress and the story continues with the sequel. It was wonderful to soak up the atmosphere, pomp and ceremony from the pages and I can't wait to read what happens to her next.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down, 5 Mar 2006
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
I saw this book advertised on Richard and Judy's Bookclub and decided to get it. I'm so glad that i did, for it is a fantastic read. I found the main character Orchid to be a really strong and determined woman, who I grew to love. Her life is so tragic as a young girl, and you wonder how she and her family will survive with no money and no father to provide for them. I was horrified at the thought of her marrying her opium-addict cousin, and desperatley wanted her to fall in love with the emperor, which she did, but unfortuantley, it wasn't that simple in that time. Her fight to win the affections of the emperor and the things that she did in order to gain experience were incrediable, and the relationship between Orchid and the other empress, Nuharoo, had me turning the pages until the end. It also has some humerous parts which made me laugh out loud, like when she wanted to use the chamber pot with her maids around. I also grew to love the character of An-te-hai, and really wanted to slap her son Tun Chih at times! A truely enchanting and enlightening tale, the only reason it didn't get five as that it sometimes dragged a little.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful in parts, lacking in others, 12 Feb 2006
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
I was drawn to this book as I have read a few others which are similar. I came to the book having quite high hopes for it, and I have to say, I was disappointed. For me the beginning was far too drawn out. While I understand that Min wanted to convey the longing and the loneliness of Orchid as she waited to be summoned by the Emporor, for me it just went on for too long. It got to the stage where I found her main character a bit whiny and irritating. This is something I do not say lightly - I have read many early Japanese memoirs by court ladies, and fiction such as THE SECRETS OF JIN-SHEI which is set in medieval China, and I have loved the way the authors expressed their loneliness and isolation living within a world dictated by ritual. Personally, for me, Min did not achieve the delicate balance of mixing despair with beauty and hope.
I think one of the underlying problems is that Min did not develop certain aspects of the story well enough. The plot seemed to jump from one situation to the next with little or no explicit progression. For example, I think the collapse of China around Orchid was not developed well enough - that part of the story seemed rushed and slightly forgotten, it just seemed to appear from the page when you least suspectd it. It could have been a fascinating and heart-rending description of a forgotten world and how it met it's demise, with comparisons of how life was and then what it became, yet I don't think this is what Min did. Likewise, she did not truly develop Orchid's longing for another man. Until the very end of the book, I don't think she concentrated on it enough - again it could have been a fabulous opportunity for a stark contrast between Orchid's feelings of obligation and her heart's desire opposing this.
While there are parts of the book which I loved - in places the descriptions of the Forbidden City and the ritual around it are breathtaking - but I personally felt as though the downsides to the book just outweighed the good.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a rollercoaster ride of chinese history demanding to be read, 12 May 2004
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
anchee min has produced a magnificent book on a not so distant history that potrays the difference in our societies. just under 150 years ago this truly remarkable story happened, but with anchee's excellent potrayal of life under an emperor you feel like you are living the times of not just the emperor and his many wives but as his eunuchs as well. an amazingly written book that i couldn't set down until i'd finished the final chapter.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful combination of history and story, 3 April 2006
By 
Atheana (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
This is one of those books which will stay with you long after the final page. Whilst I enjoy reading chic lit and what I call brain candy, it is nice to be able to read something where you actually learn at the same time.
The author has a wonderful way of bringing history to life. The characters are real and actually have just that....character. The author must have done quite a bit of research to write this book and it shows.
It seems that Memoirs of a Geisha has been read by a number of reviewers here - me included. In fact I read Memoirs first and looked forward to continuing the Eastern theme with Empress, I wasn't disappointed.
The only reason I didn't give this book five stars is down to the fact that there's just a tad more background then dialogue - but that's not to take away from the book's overall excellence. If you fancy something enjoyable yet educational at the same time, try this
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Interesting read, 16 Mar 2006
By 
Beverly Sedge (Tervuren, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
I found the book to be fascinating and educational. The descriptive style of Min's writing makes the characters come alive. The imagery is beautiful!!
The characters are surprisingly sad, amongst the sumptious surroundings of the forbiddon city the lives of it's inhabitants are dictated by the one purpose of ensuring the emporer concieves a suitable heir.
I would recommend this book. It is interesting, shocking, beautiful and many other wonderful things!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read, 21 May 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
I thought this book was excellent. I read it in a day, from the first page you just can't put it down. Annchee Min writes superbly. The book is factual so you gain not only a fab read but also a history lesson!
The plot is excellent, gaving the reader insight into the life of china with emperors, thousnds of concubines, the colonialist rampage, corruption, the whole system and values of the people...
Through Annchee Mins writing you really associate with Orchid, how she comes from nothing to becoming a wife of the Emperor of China. But once attinting this highly sought after position she realises her life is now within a golden cage, lined with flawless diamons! Every step she treads must be with upmost caution as she could get her head chopped off or worse. With her prowess Orchid competes with five other wives and thousnds of concubines to gain attention from her Husband. The story continues with the downfall of china, the opium wars, and seizing or Hong Kong. Can Empress Orchid keep her head on her shoulders (literally), produce an heir to the throne, battle with the other wives and eunuchs.
I can't recommend this book enough, it is a MUST READ!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating view of a declining China, 13 Oct 2008
By 
J. Cronin "dudara" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
Empress Orchid tells the tale of the early life of Empress Dowager Cixi, the last empress of China. She is a controversial figure, often blamed for the downfall of the Qing dynasty and Imperial China. It is somewhat accepted now that she may not have been as despotic as comtemporary press made her out to be, but she was definitely of a conservative and nationalistic political stance. Anchee Min's dramatisation of her early life is largely sympathetic and somewhat romantic.

Orchid enters the Forbidden City at a long age, having been selected through open competition to be a concubine and wife to the Emperor Hsien Feng. Her early time in the compound are filled with loneliness and desolation as she remains unselected for the Imperial bed. She begins to play the system, resulting in becoming a favourite of the emperor, bearing him a male heir, and gaining exposure to the political and foreign pressures faced by the emperor.

The book follows Orchid's life as the health of both the emperor and China itself decline. Orchid is forced to come into a more open role in order to secure the future of her son. We are treated to glimpses of a sympathetic, yet driven and manipulative character. Upon finishing the book, you aren't too sure who Orchid really was, whether she was truly a person capable of manouvers, or whether life in the Forbidden city had turned her into such a person.

This is an excellently colourful book, packed with descriptions of the costumes and courts of the era. However, it also captures the sense of decline and confusion that must have been rampant in the China of the time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner, 7 Nov 2006
By 
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
Empress Orchid was a real page turner. The author describes all the surroundings of the Forbidden City in intricate detail which transports you to China with Empress Orchid, the colours, textures and characters. The narrative is excellent, I could feel the atmosphere between her rival empressess and the concubines. Not only is this an excellent read, but very educational regarding the society of the time. Anchee Min writes a fantastic fictional novel. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Empress Orchid
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
£4.12
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews