However please feel free to discuss your current read or join in the conversation in any way that you see fit.
I’m so glad that I have a stock pile of picture book drafts tucked away for a rainy day.
This past month has been pretty hectic, with review writing being the main casualty.
I’m hoping the Easter weekend will be catch up time.
However there are a few that keep returning.
- – Holocaust literature (one day I will understand man’s inhumanity to man!)
- – the French Revolution (all those Louis’ & Napoleon’s, the brutality, and man’s inhumanity to man).
- – Russia, especially pre-revolution (the beauty, the poverty, the literature & man’s inhumanity to man).
- – Chinese history (the power, the philosophy, the inventions & man’s inhumanity to man).
- – Indian literature (the colour, the religions, the art & man’s inhumanity to man).
After reading and loving Do Not Say We Have Nothing last year, it would seem that Chinese history is firmly back in my gaze. Which segues nicely into what am I reading now…
What are you currently reading?
How did you find out about this book?
When Empress Dowager Cixi first came out it in 2013 it attracted a lot of media.
It has been on my radar ever since.
Why are you reading it now?
We ended up with a reading copy of Cixi at work recently.
One rainy lunch time I needed something to pass the time, Cixi was my first choice.
I loved it.
But where does the truth lie? Is this a biography or historical fiction?
It almost reads like fictionalised history and although I’m loving the story a little niggle is growing. Something is not quite right with the historical sources or the authors interpretations.
It feels like Chang wanted to write a certain story and she’s making the historical record fit her agenda.
Now it could be said that all history books are guilty of that charge, it’s just that some authors carefully disguise what they’re doing.
Chang has not been subtle about her agenda.
She is clearly writing herstory, not history.
Which character do you relate to so far?
I do not relate to any of the main players, but I am fascinated by their story.
I’m also thrilled that many of the places that Cixi lived in or visited are also places that I visited and explored during my time in China in 1996. Being able to picture the palaces and towns being referenced adds to my reading pleasure.
|1996 Little Potala Palace, Chengde|
Are you happy to continue?
But I feel more cautious about my initial enthusiasm.
Where do you think the story will go?
As a biography, I have to assume that we will go all the way to 1908 and Cixi’s death, with some commentary about the immediate after effects of her reign.
I hope there is also a discussion about the new Chinese sources that Chang has had access to and how they influenced her.
If you’d like to join in #BronasSalon tell us about the book you’re reading right now and how it relates to one of your reading obsessions.
Or tell us about the genre or period in history that you obsess about?
2 thoughts on “Brona’s Salon”
Pearl S. Buck's novel Imperial Woman also tells the story of Empress Dowager Cixi. I loved it on audio and have wanted to read a biography ever since. This one is on the nonfiction shelf at the library, but your comments about Chang's interpretation make me wary. I've enjoyed other books by Chang and will be very interested in your final thoughts on this one.
I'm only a third of the way through the book & I am enjoying it a lot. I'm not sure what I'm basing my wariness on, but I'm hoping to do some googling this long weekend to see what I can see.