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Imperial Woman: The Story of the Last Empress of China Kindle Edition
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|Length: 432 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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It is a remarkable story of a remarkable woman, rising and ruling entirely in her own right. She must straddle the desires of her own heart and the impinging power of the pressure of Western societies who desire trade. She is also besieged by missionaries who wish to introduce a foreign religion, Christianity.
The final words of the book give the key to her success: "'Well, well,' she said, and laughed to indulge them. "Perhaps," she said, "perhaps—'"
It was by taking after the reeds, always bending before the winds of change, but never breaking, that she was able to rule for so many years.
This story is how a lowly impoverished little girl made her way into being the sole ruler and Empress of a magnificent country during troubled times, several wars, famines, and on the brink of technology and modernization. Imperial Woman (Orchid) resisted change, but when she realized she had no choice, bravely and graciously led her nation into the modern world.
The only problem I have with Ms Buck's books is her very long paragraphs. Perhaps the style of writing at the time of her novels dictated this, so very different than today's writings. Nonetheless, it is difficult to concentrate at times with such long paragraphs.
Pearl S Buck's novels should be considered classics and are excellent works for understanding the Chinese culture.
Fans of Pearl Buck will certainly like this book, as it is very well written. Buck has such a deceptively simple style that paints layer upon layer of the story.
Much of this story is fictional, as it tells Cixi's story from her personal viewpoint. Buck has most likely invented a romance with one of her cousins, Jung Lu, who became an important statesman and general in her service. I had no problem with that, whether it was totally fictional or not. I hope the real Cixi did find romance (in fact, many people believed she was in love with one of her eunuchs). She must have been desperately lonely at times.
I was, however, a bit unhappy at how Buck portrayed her co-Empress as a "frenemy." That was totally unnecessary, and I'm always irritated at how authors so often feel the need to present women as rivals and backstabbers. It's so unfair and so unnecessary. In fact, the two women for the most part got along very well, and thanks to that, they were able to come up with a plan to jointly seize power after the death of their mutual husband, the former emperor. They did not always agree, but over several years, who does?
Other than that, Buck does a fine job of showing Cixi's life, considering what was known at the time. Since the book is about Cixi as a person rather than as a ruler, it does not deal extensively with the complexities of the political situation. For the full story, I would very highly recommend Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, an extensive and spectacular account of Cixi's life and reign. That book contains much information that was not known to Buck as a great deal of documents have only recently been discovered that explain Cixi's motives and actions.
The real Cixi was an amazing woman, and a great but not perfect, empress. This book is an excellent introduction to her.
A beautiful girl gives up a normal life of love and family to become a queen and ruled the vast country untill her last day. Her persistent zeal to be fair to her people and upholding the tradition keep her on the right track as a ruler. Her love of literature and art keeps her thoughtful and Wise.
Her only love for Jung Lu is kept alive throughout her life, so very Victorian.
Loved this book and all the others of her work.
I read some negative reviews prior to reading this book concerning historical accuracy. I kept that in mind since it was written in the 1950's and prior to new knowledge being brought to light about this woman. I want to read more of Pearl S Buck's books now.