Empress Orchid

Before anything else, I would just like to say that Mr. Jeraisy (aka Ryan) has given me a Friendster testimonial (see here). Jet is incredibly envious. I assured him that Ryan still loved him more than me, and sure enough, Ry did tell him that his own testi was “in progress”. =D

I picked up Empress Orchid by Anchee Min while browsing at the Dubai Duty Free. I idly checked through the pages and, soon enough, I finished reading it after a few hours.

The book is about Orchid, a girl who found herself penniless soon after her father died. How she managed to be one of the Emperor’s concubines, be his favorite wife, and be the Empress of China is chronicled in the book. It is, of course, a work of fiction. Yet it includes interesting historical accounts of that period and also gives an insight to the cloistered lives of the royalty of the Ching Dynasty.

I won’t pretend to be an expert book reviewer so I’m keeping this short and simple. Personally, I think Emperor Hsien Feng proved to be quite the wuss in the story. Very un-Emperor-like. He was also habitually stressed which made him pretty bad in bed, except for the period when Orchid became his constant companion before her pregnancy. Thankfully, the other supporting characters and Orchid herself made up for his deficiency.

Orchid herself is pretty impressive. She showed great presence of mind during the most trying times of her life, before and after her ascension as Empress. She also has a great deal of common sense and intelligence which the other characters lacked. I’m itching to say more, but I don’t want to spoil the book.

All in all, it’s a great book. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re the type who likes Asian historical novels. And if you trust my opinion, then please, be my guest and buy a copy. =)

= =

I have done nothing much for the past week and a half but bum around and read. I sleep like a professional sloth. In three days, I would be heading to Manila to join some of my friends and revive my dormant social life.

Oh, I also watched the Da Vinci Code with my parents. The movie isn’t half-bad, even if they did cut out a lot of parts and shortened the movie. I liked Sophie’s character better in the film, probably because the actress also played Amelie (in the French movie Amelie which is excellent!). Trish told me. =) They also cast Paul Bettany as the monk Silas. Now, I’ve always envisioned Silas as a sort of big, unattractive, middle-aged albino. But Paul Bettany is gorgeous beyond words! I couldn’t help but feel regretful when he died towards the end of the movie. But to understand the film, I’m afraid that reading the book first is essential. Otherwise, the uninitiated viewer would feel quite confused.

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