This story is the tale of Orchid, the last Empress of China. She is born into a low-ranked noble family, and when her father dies, her family is plunged into poverty. To escape a marriage made for money, Orchid “auditions” to be one of the Emperor’s wives. She succeeds, and so begins her journey through the harsh world of the royal court. I am a fan of historical novels, but this one I especially enjoyed because it is written in a country and time period that isn’t as well-known as, say, the Tudors in England. It is told from a first person perspective, but with a distant narrative voice. The protagonist – Orchid – reveals hints of what’s to come, and sometimes the story isn’t always told chronologically. The book pulled me in, and for a time I walked in China of the past. Orchid’s tale is overall quite sad, yet infused with hope. She rises from poverty to become the last Empress of China, and all due to her refusal to sit back and accept her fate. For me, it is inspirational. I will certainly be reading this book’s sequel, The Last Empress, to find out the end of this remarkable tale.