To rescue her family from poverty and avoid marrying her slope-shouldered cousin, seventeen-year-old Orchid competes to be one of the Emperor's wives. When she is chosen as a lower-ranking concubine she enters the erotically charged and ritualised Forbidden City. But beneath its immaculate facade lie whispers of murders and ghosts, and the thousands of concubines will stoop to any lengths to bear the Emperor's son.
2012 - Empress Orchid by Anchee Min - I first read this book five years ago and have been looking forward to rediscovering it again. I love the decadence of it all. Just wish I hadn't accidentally bought the large print version, people can read it the next carriage down!