This book was not at all what I expected. It is centered around the Emperor of China and her quest to rid herself and her family of poverty and marrying her unsavoury cousin.
we start at the beginning of Orchids life, briefly one sentence and then the memory of the loss of her father and how her family tries to get him to his respectful resting place with very little funds to do so. With no financial or materialistic prospects the only solution is to marry her 'slope-shouldered cousin' at the age of seventeen and help her family from their dire situation. Orchid puts herself forward to try and become one of the Emperors low ranking comcubines with little expectation of success.
There in follows the trials and tribulations of the phases of selection and the humiliating, trying process of which she feels little chance of success. The story takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotion as Orchid tries to come to terms with the changes in her life, the competitions and the jealousy and danger the life of a concubine has to offer.
I really enjoyed reading this and learning of different rules/rituals of another country and their journey to ruling. I felt sorry, admiration and sometimes frustration for the main character and ended up not wanting to put the book down to find out what happened to her, did she overcome her enemys or succome to their treachery. A good a griping read once you get into it. 4/5 for me
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