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.
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