'Empress: A Novel' is the story of the Chinese Empress who rose from a humble background to establish her own dynasty, the Zhou dynasty. Though I was'Empress: A Novel' is the story of the Chinese Empress who rose from a humble background to establish her own dynasty, the Zhou dynasty. Though I was initially skeptical about the monologue format of the book, the uniqueness and historical significance of its central character demands that we understand Heavenlight. A regular novel format could not have given us a proper insight into the mind of such an intelligent and shrewd ruler. Shan Sa's prose-like writing opens up a portal into the mind of Heavenlight and takes us through a journey of a China some 1500 years ago.
We glide through the highs and lows of Heavenlight's life, her years of servitude and lordship. The insider's view of her intelligence and potential, the hardships of her childhood, the longing of her adolescence help to justify her almost despotic rule. Though she would like us to believe that she never desired power, once she knew she could have it the Empress showed little mercy. She plotted against and killed her family members and could not give up power even in her 70s.
But Shan Sa continuously shows the Empress being apologetic about her actions. There is a undertone of remorse and regret. This works both in favor and against the novel. One can understand that a truthful depiction of a woman in the 600- 700 AD who had numerous lovers and sexual encounters, and who killed her family members requires the apologetic tone. But looking at it as an outsider in the 21C one wishes that the author had done more justice to her courage. It was not only destiny, but also the strength and intelligence of the woman that bestowed upon her the distinction of being the only female monarch of China.
The book is a fictionalization of history and one has to read it as that. It introduces us to a fascinating woman and a gorgeous China all those years ago. As a woman it makes you reflect upon your life and the status of women today. It makes you wonder if we have really come a long way in being equal. Or if a woman like Wu Zetian would have to be apologetic even today....more
The Little Prince is a marvelous story. Short and sweet like a children's book should be. And yet it gives you a lot to think about as an adult. I didThe Little Prince is a marvelous story. Short and sweet like a children's book should be. And yet it gives you a lot to think about as an adult. I did read this book before, a long time ago, but now revisiting it after having my own kids makes me look at it in a totally different light. The way kids see things, with endless imagination, is an art we lose as adults; but the author has captured it beautifully in this book. When I first read this book it appealed to me for the simplicity of its language, and the fairy tale like construction. I had just left behind seeing with my heart and began thinking in numbers, and profits, and losses. The beauty of a thing lies in what is invisible - that made little sense back then. But now when my kids' eyes light up at the thought of an invisible, the maturity of the thought comes home and makes me want to experience that genuine excitement once again. While we may forget to appreciate it, the fact remains that it is the Invisible, the mysterious that really fascinates us to follow a dream as we grow up. (The mature thing to do is say that you know all about it and what you are getting into, but there is an element of mystery, of how things will turn out that is really fascinating.) I hope I can learn to see the elephant inside the boa constrictor once again. Maybe my kids will teach me this time....more