Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

Empress Orchid

Anchee Min

This book presents a portrait of a concubine to the Chinese emperor in the nineteenth century. It describes society and its rituals inside The Forbidden City in great detail so that it comes to life as a place of great beauty and oppressive formality. Based on true life, Empress Orchid develops from a young naive girl into a woman with power who tries to hold a faltering country together. You will be hooked by this book if you are fascinated by other cultures and historical periods.


The seven of us performed the kowtow ceremony and stayed on our knees. It seemed as if I had just stepped on to a stage. Although I kept my head down I could see the beautiful vases, the magnificently carved legs of water basins, the floor lanterns with tail lace touching the ground and large good-luck locks draped with silk around the corners of the walls.

I ventured a glance at the Son of Heaven. Emperor Hsien Feng lookeed younger than I had imagined.

  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  • The Last Emperor by Bertolucci

Books with similar mood

Dancing With Statues

Caroline Doherty de Novoa

Hunters in the Dark

Lawrence Osborne

The Good Liar

Nicholas Searle

The Defections

Hannah Michell


Andrew Miller

The Sirens of Baghdad

Yasmina Khadra

Q and A

Vikas Swarup

Letting the Body Lead

Jenn Crowell


Victor Fox

Black Star Nairobi

Mukoma Wa Ngugi

The Last Warner Woman

Kei Miller

Cold Earth

Sarah Moss

My Name is Salma

Fadia Faqir

The Olive Readers

Christine Aziz

If I Told You Once

Judy Budnitz

The Warehouse

Rob Hart

Welcome to Lagos

Chibundu Onuzo

The Drum Tower

Farnoosh Moshiri

The Limits of the World

Andrew Raymond Drennan

Kiss Me First

Lottie Moggach

The Hellhound Sample

Charles Shaar Murray

The Society of Others

William Nicholson


J M Morris

Killing Time

Caleb Carr

Love in Idleness

Charlotte Mendelson

The Piano Tuner

Daniel Mason

The Valparaiso Voyage

Dermot Bolger

The Heavens

Sandra Newman


Zoe Gilbert

Sweet Fruit, Sour Land

Rebecca Ley

The Tangled Lands

Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S Buckell

Once Again Assembled Here

Sean O'Brien


David Cronenberg

The Gospel According to Cane

Courttia Newland

Every Single Minute

Hugo Hamilton

Three Strong Women

Marie NDiaye

Isabel's Skin

Peter Benson

Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn

Snake Ropes

Jess Richards

The Democrat

Olly Wyatt

Open City

Teju Cole

The Meat Tree

Gwyneth Lewis


Michael Arditti

The Chosen One

Carol Lynch Williams

As Far As You Can Go

Lesley Glaister

Skin Deep

Jacqueline Jacques

The Shape of Water

Andrea Camilleri

Little Indiscretions

Carmen Posadas