When it comes to history, I feel there’s always something to learn. I confess I tend to stay within British, American and French history, but I was drawn to The Moon In the Palace by two things. Firstly, I had friends raving about it and secondly, the cover. I love a beautiful cover; it calls to me and invites me in. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Well, reader, I judged. And it was a wise choice on my part because this was a beautiful read.
The descriptions of the locales and even of everyday attire was stunning and I could see it perfectly in my mind’s eye. The author has a gift for inviting a reader in and it has carried over into the second book in the series too–a review will follow once I finish. The themes seem to be honor, duty, filial loyalty and strength. Heaven knows one needed it to survive the intrigues! Mei–the future Empress Wu–is thirteen when she is selected to become one of the concubines of the Emperor and along with fourteen other young women, she has to make herself noticeable. When it is his birthday, whilst the other women of court aim to spoil the Emperor with things that he already has, Mei writes a riddle, setting herself apart. It is something she continues to do for all of her life; she is not one to remain in the shadows.
The development of the characters is like a lotus; slow to start and then it’s opened beautifully. It’s truly a beautifully spun tale–much like the silkworms that are mentioned in the book. Mei is a child when we begin and through this novel, we see her grow into a beautiful woman, who is learning her place in the world and how to navigate it. It’s a complicated world, to be certain, but you finish feeling that the best is yet to come for Mei. Not without trouble, of course, because court intrigues are as frequent as say a bird flying overhead.
The history is absolutely fascinating and as I didn’t know much of anything about seventh century China, I am most certainly intrigued and would like to learn more. Beyond Mei, I find Pheasant, the Noble Lady and others to be fascinating characters. Some you can tell that they may have ulterior motives but others? Well, I think you ought to read the book!
All in all, I highly recommend this book and I look forward to whatever else Weina writes. She has truly grabbed my attention and introduced to me a brand new world where I was, stupidly, oblivious to. Admittedly, the only woman in Chinese history that I was familiar with was Hua Mulan and that was from Disney. I know that’s rather pathetic, but we all start somewhere when something has our interests. For me?
This is that book.