“Feared and hated, Tzu Hsi (Cixi) was the last Empress of China, a decadent woman known for her insatiable desire for power, greed, and murderous shrewdness. Imperial Woman is a detailed, fictionalized accounting of her life. Written with great historical detail and abounding emotion, this epic...”see full review » see other reviews »
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“Feared and hated, Tzu Hsi (Cixi) was the last Empress of China, a decadent woman known for her insatiable desire for power, greed, and murderous shrewdness. Imperial Woman is a detailed, fictionalized accounting of her life. Written with great historical detail and abounding emotion, this epic novel brings to life not only the world of the Qing dynasty, but the hardships and intrigues of the Chinese royal court within the Forbidden City. Beautifully written with a compelling voice, it is a vivid portrayal of this much-maligned woman.
If you’ve never read one of Pearl S Buck’s novels, then you are in for a rare, exotic treat, a journey like you’ve never before taken. It is no wonder that she is one of the world’s most beloved authors, her books classics. This is definitely a must read book, one that will linger in your memory for years to come, and one that will teach you about a period in history well worth learning about.
“Oh my gosh this is a real "Pearl" among books. I read it in two-three days. It felt like each chapter ended with a cliffhanger and it made me walk around with the book in stores even! Couldn't for the life of me put it down. I read it in my language, Swedish, so I don't know of the English version. It is a remarkable story though and Pearl Buck certainly has a flare for creating depth to the characters presented. You can learn a lot not only of the imperial rule of China during that time but also of the cultural differences between West and East.
It is to this day one of the best books I've read.”
“Way too long, too wordy and too much irrelevant descriptions.”Trista H wrote this review Wednesday, March 6, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A book about a VERY strong woman. I learned a lot about China.”Lynn D wrote this review Wednesday, December 26, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“i like pearl buck whether she is native to asia or not it doesn't change the fact that i think she was a strong novelist who told a story well. this one not as powerful a tale as "the good earth" but still well worth the time.”dyslexicerectorset wrote this review Friday, May 18, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“So far.So good.”(Tori) The name is Sherlock Homes. wrote this review Monday, April 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Though I adore her "House of Earth" trilogy, it is this fictional biography of China's last empress, CiXi (or Tsu Hsi, in the older spelling) that is my favorite of her works. Sinuous and gorgeously written, the empress can both enthrall, horrify, and bemuse all at once.”Brad Geagley wrote this review Thursday, March 22, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is definitely a book which forced me to read from the viewpoint of another time and place. It tells the story of Tzu-Hsi (pronounced “Tsoo Shee”), born in 1835, and her rise from a middling Manchu family to the throne of Imperial China.
In novelized format Pearl S. Buck engagingly portrays this woman who, at the age of seventeen became a concubine to the emperor. Giving him his only son placed her in a position of power, which she exploited to the fullest. A crafty woman who was a devoted friend and a dangerous enemy, Tzu-Hsi continued to rule China as regent to her son after the death of his father. I did some research on her after I finished the book and learned that many historians believe that her refusal to allow China to interact with world traders and diplomats-attempting to continue the isolationist policies of the rulers before her-despite the new world economy that was evolving, very likely led to the end of any likelihood of a modernized Imperial China and thus opened the door to communism.
She did, towards the end of her rule, have a softening in her stance, as a result of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. A new willingness was expressed for social reform, to the extent of extending the possibility of a constitutional monarchy; unfortunately, her evolving position came too late for it to be willingly embraced by her people.
Author Buck does a wonderful job with Tzu-Hsi’s character, clearly showing her evolution from naive country girl to woman of power to aging ruler trying to rectify her mistakes. Everything that I read about the empress after reading Buck’s novel shows that the novel is well researched and factually correct. The author’s love and knowledge of China shine through in this novel; cultural issues are dealt with even-handedly and with perfect instinct for what a western reader might need to have further explained.
I listened to the new audio which Oasis put out last year. It was ably done-not one which will make my top audio of the year, but very good nonetheless-for audio readers I definitely recommend it.
Overall I would say that this is a wonderfully absorbing tale about a fascinating woman living in a traditional country on the cusp of the modern age. I think that most readers of historical fiction would find her life’s journey an interesting and enjoyable read.
“I've read it 3 times. I loved it.”Joyce Shaughnessy wrote this review Tuesday, October 25, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Beautifully written. Buck's prose is poetry. This is a work of historical fiction, researched in incredible detail, bringing to life an extraordinary woman whom few actually knew, although she ruled China for half a century. She lived in a very different culture, in a different era. It would be easy to condemn her vanity, her scheming, her manipulative ways, her rigidity and her treachery, as well as her mistakes. But Buck shows us a very human woman who fought her entire life to save China from losing itself to foreigners, and from losing the ancient throne to rebels. A fascinating and heartrending tale!”Margaret E wrote this review Wednesday, June 8, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No