Title: The Green Phoenix: A Novel of the Woman Who Re-Made Asia, Empress Xiaozhuang
Author: Alice Poon
Publisher: Earnshaw Publishing
Publish Date: September 1, 2017
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "With the fate of East
Asia hanging in the balance, one Mongolian woman manipulated her lovers,
sons and grandsons through war and upheaval to create an empire that
lasted for 250 years. The Green Phoenix tells the story of the Empress
Dowager Xiaozhuang, born a Mongolian princess who became a consort in
the Manchu court and then the Qing Dynasty's first matriarch. Shelived
through harrowing threats, endless political crises, personal heartaches
and painful losses to lead a shaky Empire out of a dead end. The story
is set against a turbulent canvas as the Chinese Ming Dynasty is
replaced by the Qing. Xiaozhuang guides her husband, her lover, her son
and her grandson - all emperors and supreme leaders of the Qing Empire -
to success against the odds."
My Two Cents:
"The Green Phoenix" is a sweeping novel about Empress Xiaozhuang (who is called Bumbutai in her native Mongolia), a woman who started off as a Mongolian princess and became a powerful empress on the Chinese throne during the 17th century (Qing Dynasty), which was a very exciting and quickly changing time in Chinese history. I had not heard of the Empress before picking up this book and it was a treat to see how she rose from her family in Mongolia to becoming such a powerful figure in China.
We basically get to see Bumbutai's entire life from the time that she was a young child through her adult years and into her later years. I loved that we got to see her at all different ages because it really helps you to appreciate just how much her life changed. Mongolian royal life was quite different than Chinese royal life. It takes Bumbutai awhile to find her footing but eventually we get to see her grow quite powerful.
This book had a lot of palace intrigue, which I enjoyed. There were many surrounding the royal family and even some of those at court who wanted to see their downfall. Bumbutai gets an unfortunate taste of this throughout the book but each time she is able to learn a little bit more about the direction her life must take and how she must comport herself.
The story line was very interesting to me and it is clear that author did a ton of research in order to bring the book to life. There are many parts of the book that verge on telling a little bit too much rather than showing how things were. The detail is interesting so I still appreciated it but it did take me out of the story by taking me away from the characters. I wished that the detail would have been a little more baked in. That being said, I did enjoy this story and this introduction to such an interesting historical figure.