anchee min || empress orchid || 4.5/5.0
empress orchid is historical fiction, loosely based on the life of the empress dowager cixi, who ruled china for the second half of the 19th century until her death in 1908. this novel actually only covers until about 1860, and there is a second novel (the last empress), which covers her reign itself.
empress orchid is the story of her rise from poverty to becoming leader of china. i know it's fiction, but i still think i learned more about china's history reading this book than i ever did in school. (thanks history major!) i'm certainly encouraged to learn more.
the writing is great, and the story engaging. i'll definitely be picking up the sequel soon! it was well received when released in 2004, and i can understand why.