Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

China

User avatar
Catherine Delors
Avid Reader
Posts: 399
Joined: August 2008
Location: Paris, London, Los Angeles
Contact:

China

Post by Catherine Delors » Thu October 2nd, 2008, 6:55 am

Is anyone else here a fan of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee?

http://blog.catherinedelors.com/2008/09 ... gulik.aspx

User avatar
xiaotien
Reader
Posts: 175
Joined: August 2008
Location: southern cali
Contact:

Post by xiaotien » Mon October 13th, 2008, 8:28 pm

hi catherine! thanks for pointing me to this
thread! i have not heard of this author, worth
checking out, tho, with your rec!

have you read lisa see? which
i think is much more commerical and
has found a wider audience :

snow flower and the secret fan

peony in love

i think i preferred the latter, because it
had a more supernatural element to the tale
in the latter half.

also, anchee min :

empress orchid (i enjoyed it)

becoming madam mao (didn't read it)

the last empress (this one just came out.
i'll have to add it to my TBR list!)
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia
greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09

cindypon.com

User avatar
Catherine Delors
Avid Reader
Posts: 399
Joined: August 2008
Location: Paris, London, Los Angeles
Contact:

Post by Catherine Delors » Mon October 13th, 2008, 8:53 pm

Thanks for all the recommendations!

On the non-fiction side, I read eons ago the autobiography of Pu Yi, the last Emperor. A totally fascinating read about China on the cusp of modernity and national/worldwide catastrophe. Very interesting on the complex and often antagonistic relationship between Chinese and Japanese cultures, something that was recently treated in the (wonderful) film Lust Caution.

The Last Empress would be Pu Yi's first wife then? Maybe not as interesting as Tseu Hi, but I would love to hear your take on it.

User avatar
xiaotien
Reader
Posts: 175
Joined: August 2008
Location: southern cali
Contact:

Post by xiaotien » Mon October 13th, 2008, 9:07 pm

catherine, no, not wife to the last emperor.
(i only saw the film, and thought that was pretty
amazing. didn't realize there was a book--but of
course there would be!)

here's a brief synopsis from amazon :

Now, in The Last Empress, the empress is a widow, mother of the only male heir of the now-deceased emperor, and in a formidable position. Still, she must contend with palace intrigue on all fronts; even her eunuchs are bribed. She must put up with the smiling faces of men and women who mean her great harm, and, worst of all, her son takes up with prostitutes and dies of veneral disease. She adopts her nephew to be emperor, treats him like a son, and despairs of his weakness. Constant deceit is not the only difficulty which must be faced: incursions of foreigners and domestic rebellion are also part of this violent period at the end of the 19th century. There is the love-hate relationship with the Japanese, the Boxer Rebellion, and widespread mistrust of Western foreigners. Yet Empress Orchid believes that they must appease these factions in order to preserve the dynasty and the throne. All these problems converge to bring the Ch'ing Dynasty to its eventual demise.

...

so the last emperor is actually the
nephew of the last empress--chosen by her.
i really do need to read this, if not for research
purposes alone. =)
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia
greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09

cindypon.com

User avatar
Catherine Delors
Avid Reader
Posts: 399
Joined: August 2008
Location: Paris, London, Los Angeles
Contact:

Post by Catherine Delors » Mon October 13th, 2008, 9:14 pm

From this description, this Last Empresss is indeed Tseu Hi, who wasn't the last Empress! I guess it sounded better as a title than The Last Empress But One!
Frankly I don't like it when HF takes this kind of liberties with historical accuracy.

User avatar
Catherine Delors
Avid Reader
Posts: 399
Joined: August 2008
Location: Paris, London, Los Angeles
Contact:

Post by Catherine Delors » Mon October 13th, 2008, 9:16 pm

And another thing: you can tell your world is going to pot when you can't even trust your eunuchs... :rolleyes:

User avatar
xiaotien
Reader
Posts: 175
Joined: August 2008
Location: southern cali
Contact:

Post by xiaotien » Mon October 13th, 2008, 9:18 pm

ah those rascally eunuchs. hehe!!

and i guess they consider her a true last empress
in a way. since the last emperor was such a flop. =O

also, the review said don't read this book for
historical accuracy. =O because she makes the
empress sympathetic. and she's never portrayed
as such in history books. but i wonder if part of
it was culture -- and that she was demonized in a way?

very intriguing.
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia
greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09

cindypon.com

User avatar
Catherine Delors
Avid Reader
Posts: 399
Joined: August 2008
Location: Paris, London, Los Angeles
Contact:

Post by Catherine Delors » Mon October 13th, 2008, 9:23 pm

So OK, let's retitle this: The Last Empress Who Had Any Guts. True, the real last Empress was an opium addict, and didn't make much of an impression on anyone, including her husband.

I guess Tseu Hi fared like many strong female rulers: history doesn't remember her fondly.

User avatar
diamondlil
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2642
Joined: August 2008

Post by diamondlil » Tue October 14th, 2008, 1:57 am

I too enjoyed Peony in Love more than I did Snowflower, although they were both very good. I did try to read one of Lisa See's contemporary mystery novels that were set in China and the US, with a Chinese main character and a US main character. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either, and I have to say that it seems as though she has really found her feet in HF.

Other than that, the only other book set in China that I have read recently was the Flashman that was BOTM a short time ago and also at least one of the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik have at least some of the action set in China.
My Blog - Reading Adventures

All things Historical Fiction - Historical Tapestry


There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Edith Wharton

User avatar
cw gortner
Bibliophile
Posts: 1288
Joined: September 2008
Location: San Francisco,CA
Contact:

Post by cw gortner » Tue October 14th, 2008, 4:40 am

I loved EMPRESS ORCHID by Anchee Min. It was superb, IMHO.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


www.cwgortner.com

Post Reply

Return to “By Country/Continent”