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Extended Audio Sample Imperial Woman: The Story of the Last Empress of China Audiobook, by Pearl S. Buck Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,921 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pearl S. Buck Narrator: Kirsten Potter Publisher: Oasis Audio, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9781608148240
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Imperial Woman is the fictionalized biography of the last Empress in China, Ci-xi, who began as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor and on his death became the de facto head of the Qing Dynasty until her death in 1908.

Buck recreates the life of one of the most intriguing rulers during a time of intense turbulence. Tzu Hsi was born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty. According to custom, she moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines. But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation quickly moved her into the position of Second Consort.

Tzu Hsi was feared and hated by many in the court, but adored by the people. The Empress’ rise to power (even during her husband’s life) parallels the story of China’s transition from the ancient to the modern way.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A long, richly woven and to me, quite absorbing novel.” 

    Nation

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lorraine | 2/6/2014

    " maybe it was just me? but I feel: too long. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy Stephens | 2/4/2014

    " This is my favorite Pearl Buck novel. Walking through the Forbidden City and seeing the Summer Palace after reading this book, made me feel connected and love the book even more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edy | 2/4/2014

    " Pearl S. Buck merupakan Karl May-nya cerita Cina. Dia sangat memahani budaya dan intrik2 dalam tembok kekaisaran Cina. Wanita ternyata bisa menjadi begitu kuat dan sadis ketika memegang kekuasaan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Huyen | 1/7/2014

    " so here you go: China at its most peculiar and perplexing in a turbulent and precarious time. Imperial Woman is story of the life of Tsu Hsi Empress of the early twentieth century, one of the most formidable and powerful women in China's history. She's up there with Wu Zetian and Jiang Qing as the most ruthless, shrewd and manipulative figures in politics. Coming from a modest background, she exploited her charm to seduce the Emperor, took power when he died, poisoned her own son, allied with a corrupt and cunning eunuch to seize control of the Qin dynasty, assassinated her opponents and signed a notorious treaty with the western imperialists, forever leaving a humiliating mark on china's history. Pearl Buck added a very personal touch to this intriguing drama with her first hand account and observation. I read the book quite a few years back, but still have a lingering impression of the complexity of life in the Forbidden City and the continual ferocious struggle of a new and an old china, all entwined in this curious woman's life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tammy | 12/30/2013

    " I love historical fiction - and this book helped me understand China and the role of an emperor/empress much better. It was well written and I loved the main character most of the time, some times I hated her. But in the end I was just so impressed with her ability to rule her people and sacrifice her own desires. I had a hard time deciding whether to give it a 3 or 4 stars. It probably deserves 4 stars. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leah | 12/26/2013

    " I loved this book! I got finished with it and looked up the main character only to set me reading everything I could about her! Great Book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kate West | 12/21/2013

    " If I had to hear one more description of an imperial robe I was going to go crazy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex Williams | 11/12/2013

    " One of my favorites EVER!!!!!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erna Girsang | 10/26/2013

    " Wish just a desription what are we in the future, but wish never end as long as we still alive "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Monica | 9/20/2013

    " Este libro lo estoy leyendo por segunda vez, se aprende muchisimo sobre la cultura china, pues se trata de la ultima emperatriz de China. Pearl tiene una forma de describir los detalles que me encanta. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Asri | 8/25/2013

    " greatness is also meant for woman, whether you stay behind the curtain or just show it off... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherree | 6/12/2013

    " I really didn't know she had written so many books. I would have given this book a five, because I really liked it, but the last 50 pages really seemed to drag. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 12/31/2012

    " This is my favorite of all time! I think I really enjoy the historical aspect of the book tied in with enough detail about the characters to make it come to life. I love the boldness of the Last Empress. She was a strong woman in a day and culture that did not allow it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 J | 2/8/2012

    " This was just OK...really I enjoyed The Good Earth trilogy much more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelly | 12/15/2011

    " Must...save...opinions...until...book...club... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 S. | 12/1/2011

    " Read this as a teenager after The Good Earth, and found it fascinating. The scene in which she is chosen as a concubine is still clear in my head 30 or so years after reading the book. Along with The Good Earth, this book is one that convinced me I had to see China. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terri | 11/29/2011

    " My favorite Pearl S. Buck book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deepa | 11/1/2011

    " A very unexpected book - I was really drawn in by this character and this world, and Pearl S. Buck's unapologetic respect for a wman that histor has basically painted as a despot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 8/11/2011

    " Interesting portrait of a tyrant and a way of life. Takes place in the era beginning in the 1850's up to and immediately following the Boxer Rebellion. If China had modernized as did Japan, would there have been a WWII? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sabrina | 8/1/2011

    " Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck (1956) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marie | 7/17/2011

    " I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of China as written by Pearl S. Buck who lived through some of it and was a great storyteller. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy Stephens | 6/28/2011

    " This is my favorite Pearl Buck novel. Walking through the Forbidden City and seeing the Summer Palace after reading this book, made me feel connected and love the book even more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara | 6/23/2011

    " Another great work of fiction and history by Pearl Buck.
    I recommend this book to those who love Historical Fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karyn | 4/2/2011

    " I love Pearl S. Buck. This book is not as emotionally engaging as The Good Earth, but I learned a lot about old China. This is a book I would be happy to re-read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 3/14/2011

    " A historical piece of fiction relating the world view from China's last Empress during the 1800's. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judylou | 1/30/2011

    " Love this book. Read it many times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann | 1/14/2011

    " Pearl Buck's writing evolved over the years until she produced this masterpiece. My opinion of course. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 nicole | 12/17/2010

    " I loved this book. It was excellent and spoke to the budding feminist in me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenifer | 11/12/2010

    " This book is like a crazy soap opera. The main character is so paranoid and so conniving that I was getting paranoid as I was reading the book. (Buck has a really amazing writing style). I had to put it down and I haven't returned to it yet; it is really intense. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 11/1/2010

    " Interesting portrait of a tyrant and a way of life. Takes place in the era beginning in the 1850's up to and immediately following the Boxer Rebellion. If China had modernized as did Japan, would there have been a WWII? "

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About the Author
Author Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973), the daughter of missionaries, was born in West Virginia but spent most of her time until 1934 in China. She began writing while in China and published her first novel shortly after returning to the United States. Her novel The Good Earth was the bestselling fiction book in the United States in 1931 and 1932, and it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces.”

About the Narrator

Kirsten Potter, who graduated with highest honors from Boston University, has narrated numerous audiobooks and has performed for television and in theaters across the country. She has won several awards, including eleven AudioFile Earphones Awards, and been a three-time finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. Her work has been recognized by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and by AudioFile magazine, among many others.