Imperial_Woman.JPGImperial woman is one of the mastery works of Pearl S. Buck. She once again captivates the audience with intriguing adventure and exploration of the ancient China through a single woman. Imperial Woman is like the title, fictionalized autobiography of Ci-Xi or Tz’U His, the empress of the wade-Giles. The story starts off with Ci-Xi going in to the palace as a concubine of the XianFeng Emperor of Great China. Even at an early age of 17 years old, she was manipulative, dominating, and perhaps even wicked. Tzu His was born into one of the poor noble ranks in the imperial dynasty. According to the custom, at the age of the seventeen, she moved to the Forbidden City, and became one of the hundreds of concubines. But her unique and dominating power and undeniable beauty quickly gets her up to the consort of the empress. On the death bed of Xian Fend Emperor, she supposedly became a head o the Qing Dynasty in 1908. She was feared in many courts, but adored by the peasants. Buck’s detailed knowledge of the self-involved, and infamous last empress of china, and seeming realistic story of china’s struggle for freedom and democracy takes the readers to inescapable fascination.


At first, I wasn’t really intrigued by the title, “imperial Woman.” The only reason I chose the book is because I loved the Pearl S Buck’s “the Good Earth.” Nevertheless, even the synopsis overturned my suspicions of boredom. The book thoroughly describes every single characteristic, movement and even her voice in each dialogue. Even by reading a fiction, I could really feel how dominating and fearsome Tz’U His empress was. Furthermore, this book is one of the few books I encountered that dealt with female empress or female ruler. In Asian historical fictions, usually deals with the great ruler who created “that” or “this” or whatever. However, Imperial Woman only focused on this one woman throughout the book. I had no complains at all with the book itself. But if I had to choose what bothered was, how the story just ended in the conclusion. The beginning and middle, the story was thoroughly descriptive, however, near the end, it was almost like listing what she had done, and how scary she was. Although that still interesting, I think I would enjoyed the book more, if it was kept its descriptive style throughout the book.


Pearl Buck (1892-1973) was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia. She grew up in China, where her parents were missionaries, but was educated at Randolph-Macon Woman's College. She spent most of life in china before going to college and came back after she graduated. She lived in china until 1934 with the exception of a year spent at Cornell University, where she took an M.A. in 1926. Pearl Buck began to write in the twenties. During the civil war, Buck and her husband evacuated Japan, and never came back to china. In 1935 Buck divorced her first husband and married her publisher and the president of John Day Company, Richard Walsh. She then moved to Pennsylvania, and published her debut work, East Wind, West Wind in 1930s. Following the years, she continued to write books dealing with the conflict between he East and the west. Her interest in Asian association spread to China, India, and Korea. Till her death in 1973, she was known for Nobel Prize writer, political journalist, Women’s right editor, humanitarian, and philanthropist.